Last weekend, the NUS Philosophy Department sponsored an excellent event for students from around Singapore: the Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue, held at Raffled Girls School. Two CENTRES staff were in attendance: Assistant Professor Voo Teck Chuan, co-PI of CENTRES, gave a keynote on the ethics of enhancement technologies; and I was there to help facilitate one of the breakout case discussion groups. You can read a bit more about the event at the Philosophy Department’s blog. This year’s theme, philosophy and science, was especially relevant to CENTRES’s work, and several cases covered topics in research ethics.
My own discussion group looked at privacy issues. A focus was the government’s invasion of personal privacy in order to prevent crime and terrorism. But towards the end, I pressed the student on an issue more germane to research ethics: how do you feel about research that makes use of your data social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter? Feelings were mixed, with some claiming that all social media is essentially public and the data use was fair game, while others were concerned about researchers encroaching on their personal spaces. One practical result, though, was that some students realized they had better check their privacy settings to see what, exactly, the social media sites were doing with their data. Overall, it was a great discussion with a talented group of promising students.