AJIS Section Release: Research on Applied Ethics Involving Emerging ICT Technologies

The papers comprising this section are:

O'Connor, Y., Heavin, C., Gallagher, J., & O'Donoghue, J. (2017). Predicting Participant Consent in mHealth Trials – A Caregiver’s Perspective.Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 21. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v21i0.1470


Informed consent is sought prior to conducting a healthcare intervention on a person. When a healthcare intervention involves a young child, their caregiver is required to provide informed consent on their behalf. However, little is known on the behavioural intentions of participants to provide consent when a mobile health (mHealth) intervention is involved in a clinical trial scenario. Understanding this phenomenon is important, without consent appropriate data may not be collected to empirically examine the implications of mHealth initiatives when delivering healthcare services to children in a ‘real world context’. The objective of this paper is to explore the behavioural intentions of caregivers to provide consent for children (under five years of age) to participate in mHealth Randomised Control Trials (RCT) in developing countries and subsequently develop a predictive model for consent giving. Data was captured vis-à-vis interviews with Malawian caregivers in Africa. The findings reveal that emotional response stimuli play a major role during the participant informed consent process resulting in the involvement (or not) of a child within an RCT. The study contributes to, and opens up, avenues for critical research on the role of informed consent as part of RCT-related projects, especially concerning the involvement of children. This new knowledge may be leveraged to address participant uncertainties and subsequently improve the rate of paediatric recruitment in mHealth trial scenarios.


Dainow, B. (2017). Threats to Autonomy from Emerging ICTs. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 21. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v21i0.1438


This paper examines threats to autonomy created by significant emerging ICTs. Emerging ICTs cover a wide range of technologies, from intelligent environments to neuroelectronics, and human autonomy is potentially threatened by all of them in some way. However, there is no single agreed definition of autonomy. This paper therefore considers the ways in which different accounts of autonomy are impacted by the different IC technologies. From this range of threats we will derive some properties which any ICT must exhibit in order to threaten human autonomy. Finally, we will show how the range of definitions of autonomy creates problems for customary approaches to vale-sensitive design, and how this indicates a need for greater flexibility when attempting to improve the ethical status of emerging ICTs.


Al-Saggaf, Y., Burmeister, O., & Schwartz, M. (2017). Qualifications and ethics education: the views of ICT professionals. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 21. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v21i0.1365


Do information and communications technology (ICT) professionals who have ICT qualifications believe that the ethics education they received as part of their ICT degrees helped them recognise ethical problems in the workplace and address them? If they do, are they also influenced by their personal ethics? What else helps them recognise ethical problems in the workplace and address them? And what are their views in relation to the impact of ethics education on professionalism in the ICT workplace? A quantitative survey of 2,315 Australian ICT professionals revealed that participants who reported having various levels of qualifications found ethics education or training, to a small degree, helpful for recognising ethical problems and addressing them; although it is those with Non-ICT qualifications, not those with ICT degrees, who were influenced more by ethics education or training. This suggests that educators need to consider how to better prepare ICT graduates for the workplace challenges and the types of situations they subsequently experience. The survey also found that participants who reported having various levels of qualifications were not influenced by their personal ethics or indeed any other factor making ethics education or training important for developing professionalism. The quantitative survey was followed by qualitative interviews with 43 Australian ICT professionals in six Australian capital cities. These interviews provided further empirical evidence that ethics education is crucial for enabling ICT professionals to recognise ethical problems and resolve them and that educators need to consider how to better prepare ICT graduates for the types of moral dilemmas that they are likely going to face in the workforce.