Implications of an ethic of privacy for human-centred systems engineering

Peter J. Carew, Larry Stapleton, Gabriel J. Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Privacy remains an intractable ethical issue for the information society, and one that is exacerbated by modern applications of artificial intelligence. Given its complicity, there is a moral obligation to redress privacy issues in systems engineering practice itself. This paper investigates the role the concept of privacy plays in contemporary systems engineering practice. Ontologically a nominalist human concept, privacy is considered from an appropriate engineering perspective: human-centred design. Two human-centred design standards are selected as exemplars of best practice, and are analysed using an existing multi-dimensional privacy model. The findings indicate that the human-centred standards are currently inadequate in dealing with privacy issues. Some implications for future practice are subsequently highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-403
Number of pages19
JournalAI and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Privacy, human-centred design, best practice, Q methodology, standards, systems engineering.


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