Ethical Challenges in the Digital Age: The Case of Mobile Contact Tracing Applications

By Geneviève FIEUX-CASTAGNET and Gérald SANTUCCI: The Internet of Things not only refers to the computer network that connects objects, it also refers to the concept of the object, which, as science fiction author Bruce Sterling has shown, has metamorphosed over time. First an artefact (i.e. a rudimentary tool linked to hunting and agricultural civilizations), then a machine (i.e. a complex object based on an artificial energy source), and finally a product (i.e. a manufactured object reproduced in a large number of identical copies), the object in the digital age can also be a gizmo (i.e. a complex object, such as software, which is more difficult to simplify than to increase, which requires learning on the part of its users and which relies on other objects to exist) or a spime (i.e. an object that is traceable, identifiable, locatable, equipped with digital devices, e.g. RFID chips, and existing in a network). If we look further into a distant future (around 2060, according to Sterling), with in particular the Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno (NBIC) convergence, the object would become a biot, i.e. an entity that would be both an object and a human!