Spotlight on ethics: Smart homes for older people with disabilities

You are the software engineer responsible for the integrity of the system in a community of smart homes. During a routine inspection you discover several indicators suggesting a data breach may have occurred via some of the smart appliances, many of which have cameras and are voice-activated. What do you do?

These is one of the questions posed in our intermediate level Engineering Ethics Toolkit case study Smart homes for older people with disabilities.

This case involves a software engineer who has discovered a potential data breach in a smart home community. The engineer must decide whether or not to report the breach, and then whether to alert and advise the residents. In doing so, considerations of the relevant legal, ethical, and professional responsibilities need to be weighed. The case also addresses communication in cases of uncertainty as well as macro-ethical concerns related to ubiquitous and interconnected digital technology.

We’ve provided this, and other case studies and case enhancements for you to use and adapt in your teaching. If you’re new to ethics, we have a growing library of guidance articles available to support you, and an interactive Ethics Explorer to get you started.

If you would like to give feedback on this or any other Engineering Ethics resource, or submit your own content, you can do so here. We also have a newly created community of practice that you can join, where we hope that educators will support each other, and share their success stories of teaching engineering ethics. You can join our Ethics Ambassadors community here.

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