Ethics and Decisions in Distributed Technologies: A Problem of Trust and Democracy?

The distributed architecture of applications such as blockchains, wireless sensor networks, multi-agent platforms, and the Internet of Things charges technological development to face, by default, with two aspects of responsibility that were usually accorded to human beings: the “decision” (Who is enabled to make decisions in a decentralized system? What about the mechanism for deciding? Authorized by whom? With what kind of consensus?) and “ethics” (To which principles must respond the decision-making mechanism? And, if decisions are distributed, what is the role of ethics? To guide or to laissez-faire? Permissive or restrictive? For everyone or only for those who are authorized?). Our researcher Antonio Carnevale and the CEO Carmela Occhipinti have responded to these epochal questions in their paper published in Bucciarelli E., Chen SH., Corchado J. (eds) Decision Economics: Complexity of Decisions and Decisions for Complexity. DECON 2019. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 1009, Springer.

By rethinking the distributed technologies in view of a game-changing transformation of models of trust-in-governance, we have come to progressively more decentralized forms until the contemporary “distributed trust”. This paper constitutes an endeavor to introduce and address the main philosophical foundations of this historical passage.