14 March 2007

Infoethics, Open Access, ODF and Open Source

Now here's something you might not expect from UNESCO every day:

The Infoethics Survey of Emerging Technologies prepared by the NGO Geneva Net Dialogue at the request of UNESCO aims at providing an outlook to the ethical implications of future communication and information technologies. The report further aims at alerting UNESCO’s Member States and partners to the increasing power and presence of emerging technologies and draws attention to their potential to affect the exercise of basic human rights. Perhaps as its most salient deduction, the study signals that these days all decision makers, developers, the corporate scholar and users are entrusted with a profound responsibility with respect to technological developments and their impact on the future orientation of knowledge societies.

It touches on a rather motley bunch of subjects, including the semantic Web, RFID, biometrics and mesh networking. But along the way it says some sensible things:

One primary goal of infoethics is to extend the public domain of information; that is, to define an illustrative set of knowledge, information, cultural and creative works that should be made available to every person.

Even more surprising, to me at least, was this suggestion:

UNESCO should meanwhile support open standards and protocols that are generated through democratic processes not dominated by large corporations.

The use of OpenDocument Format and other open formats should also be encouraged as they help mitigate lock-in to certain technologies. Other initiatives to consider include pursuing free and open software, as well as the “Roadmap for Open ICT Ecosystems” developed last year.

(Via Heise Online.)

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