This Article 
   
 Share 
   
 Bibliographic References 
   
 Add to: 
 
Digg
Furl
Spurl
Blink
Simpy
Google
Del.icio.us
Y!MyWeb
 
 Search 
   
An Ethical Analysis of Automation, Risk, and the Financial Crises of 2008
January/February 2009 (vol. 11 no. 1)
pp. 14-19
George F. Hurlburt, Change Index
Keith W. Miller, University of Illinois at Springfield
The unprecedented financial market volatility of 2008 has profound implications. Although there is plenty of "blame" to be shared, some key elements of the instability are relatively straightforward to identify. The authors contend that a fundamental, underlying cause is the cavalier approach taken to applied risk management, an approach that was only possible because of the use (and some would say abuse) of automation. This article examines ethical issues associated with general behaviors leading to the market volatility of 2008. It then isolates some related ethical factors that can be singularly attributed to automation. While the effects of market automation can't be realistically blamed for the overall market situation, automation certainly contributed to and still contributes to market uncertainty. Some of this uncertainty is due not merely to automation but to decisions made as risk management was automated. These findings are reinforced by research work employing latent semantic analysis (LSA).

1. M. Rosenwald, "The Financial Lobe: Coping with Panic and Fear in Markets," The Washington Post,29 Sept. 2008; www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/ 2008/09/24DI2008092401851.html.
2. M. Castels, The Information Age, Economy, Society and Culture, Volume I: Rise of the Network Society, 2nd ed., Blackwell Publishing, 2000.
3. J.R. Hagerty and R. Simon, "Housing Pain Gauge: Nearly 1 in 6 Owners under Water," The Wall Street J.,8 Oct. 2008; http://online.wsj.com/articleSB122341352084512611.html?mod=relevancy.
4. F. Capra, Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living, Random House, 2002, pp. 138–141.
5. S. Hansell, "Bits: Business, Innovation, Technology, Society: How Wall Street Lied to Its Computers," The New York Times,18 Sept. 2008; http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/18/ how-wall-streets-quants-lied-to-their-computers ?scp=1&sq=How%20Wall20Street%20Lied%20to%20Its%20Computers&st=cse .
6. N.N. Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Random House, 2007.
7. L.G. Crovitz, "Information Age: The 1% Panic," The Wall Street J.,13 Oct. 2008; http://online.wsj.com/articleSB122385689217827341.html.
8. H. Kurtz, "Media Notes: The Press, a Few Dollars Short," The Washington Post,6 Oct. 2008; www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/ 2008/10/06AR2008100600620.html.
9. A. Faiola, E. Nakashima, and J. Drew, "Economy Watch: Risk and Regulation," The Washington Post,15 Oct. 2008; www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/ 2008/10/14AR2008101403343.html.
10. Y. Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yale Univ. Press, 2006, pp. 133–176.
11. T.K. Landauer et al., Handbook of Latent Semantic Analysis, Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., 2007.
12. J.A. Stieb, "A Critique of Positive Responsibility in Computing," Science and Eng. Ethics, vol. 14, no. 2, 2008, pp. 219–233.
13. K.W. Miller, "Critiquing a Critique," Science and Eng. Ethics, vol. 14, no. 2, 2008, pp. 245–249.

Index Terms:
IT professional, economic meltdown, automation, ethics, latent semantic analysis (LSA)
Citation:
George F. Hurlburt, Keith W. Miller, Jeffrey M. Voas, "An Ethical Analysis of Automation, Risk, and the Financial Crises of 2008," IT Professional, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 14-19, Jan.-Feb. 2009, doi:10.1109/MITP.2009.2
Usage of this product signifies your acceptance of the Terms of Use.