Moral Mediators in HCI
Lorenzo Magnani (University of Pavia, Italy), Emanuele Bardone (University of Pavia, Italy) and Michele Bocchiola (LUISS University, Italy)
Copyright: © 2006
Our contention is that interactions between humans and computers have a moral dimension. That is to say, a computer cannot be taken as a neutral tool or a kind of neutral technology (Norman, 1993).1 This conclusion seems a bit puzzling and surely paradoxical. How can a computer be moral? All computational apparatuses can be generally considered as moral mediators, but for our considerations, computers are the best representative tools. First of all, they are the most widespread technological devices, they are relatively cheap in comparison to other technological utilities, and, very importantly, they can be easily interconnected all over the word through the Internet. This last feature allows people to keep in contact with each other and, consequently, to improve their relations. Computers require interactions with humans, but also allow interactions between humans. Since morality relates to how to treat other people within interactive behaviors, computers can help us to act morally in several ways. For instance, as the concept of moral mediators suggests, computers can help us to acquire new information useful to treat in a more satisfactory moral way other human beings.