Hopes, fears, and ethical concerns relating to technology are as old as technology itself. When considering the increase in the power of computers, and their ever-more widespread use over recent decades, concerns have been raised about the social impact of computers and about practical issues arising from their use: the manner in which data is harvested, the preservation of confidentiality where people’s personal information is concerned, the security of systems in which such data is stored, and so on. With the arrival of “big data” new ethical concerns surrounding computer-based technology arise—concerns connected not only with social issues, and with the generation of data and its security, but also with its interpretation by data scientists, and with the burgeoning trade in personal data. The first aim of this paper is to introduce some of these ethical issues, and the second is to suggest some possible ways in which they might be addressed. The latter includes some explorations of the ways in which insights from religious and theological perspectives might be valuable. It is urged that theology and data science might engage in mutually-beneficial dialogue.
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