Computer Simulations, Disclosure and Duty of Care

  • John Barlow
Keywords: ethics, Modeling and simulation, disclosure, duty of care, responsibility


Computer simulations provide cost effective methods for manipulating and modeling 'reality'. However they are not real. They are imitations of a system or event, real or fabricated, and as such mimic, duplicate or represent that system or event. The degree to which a computer simulation aligns with and reproduces the ‘reality’ of the system or event it attempts to mimic or duplicate depends upon many factors including the efficiency of the simulation algorithm, the processing power of the computer hardware used to run the simulation model, and the expertise, assumptions and prejudices of those concerned with designing, implementing and interpreting the simulation output. Computer simulations in particular are increasingly replacing physical experimentation in many disciplines, and as a consequence, are used to underpin quite significant decision-making which may impact on ‘innocent’ third parties. In this context, this paper examines two interrelated issues: Firstly, how much and what kind of information should a simulation builder be required to disclose to potential users of the simulation? Secondly, what are the implications for a decision-maker who acts on the basis of their interpretation of a simulation output without any reference to its veracity, which may in turn comprise the safety of other parties?
How to Cite
Barlow, J. (2006). Computer Simulations, Disclosure and Duty of Care. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 13(2).