NSF Awards Drexel University Researchers Grant to Study the Ethics of Digital Technology

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a Drexel University research team a $45,000 grant to form a conference focused on the ethics of digital technology. Content from the summit will be showcased on the American Psychology Association’s (APA) website and will be open to public access.

Personal information increasingly fosters personalized technology experiences in daily activities, such as shopping, reading news articles and watching movies. Researchers can now access more research participants and expanded opportunities to study complex human behaviors in real-time. However, using digital technologies to conduct research calls for new core guidelines for research ethics, such as informed consent, autonomy and confidentiality.

“The purpose of this grant is to bring together collective perspectives on issues surrounding ethical frameworks for evolving technologies,” says principal investigator and Assistant Professor of Information Science Jina Huh-Yoo, PhD. Associate Professor of Computer Science Edward Kim, PhD, and Director of Research Ethics at APA Sangeeta Panicker, PhD are co-principal investigators for this initiative.

This conference will address how current ethical frameworks apply to digital technology, how perceptions of sharing information have changed with increased use of digital devices, how artificial intelligence has impacted ethical dimensions of human research and what ethical frameworks can apply to emerging digital technology use when researching human participants. As a result, organizers expect the meeting to generate white papers outlining ethical, social and legal challenges related to using electronic and mobile devices in research, guidelines for students and researchers conducting studies using these technologies, design details for educational tools and a research plan for a follow-up proposal to assess, improve and support training.

This project supports the formation of informative panels and group activities for fostering computer ethics research. Huh-Yoo adds, “Expertise in technology enables Drexel’s scholars to lead this effort.” Huh-Yoo will showcase 4 posters and a full paper on telehealth at the American Medical Informatics Association’s (AMIA) Annual 2021 Symposium in San Diego, California in November.

About the National Science Foundation (NSF)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency formed in 1950 focused on promoting scientific progress to advance US national health, prosperity and welfare. With an annual budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds approximately 25 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by US colleges and universities. NSF is the only federal entity dedicated to supporting all fields of fundamental science and engineering.

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