I am Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford, where I am the Director of Research and Senior Research Fellow of the Oxford Internet Institute, Governing Body Fellow of St Cross College, Distinguished Research Fellow of the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Faculty of Philosophy, and Research Associate and Fellow in Information Policy of the Department of Computer Science. Outside Oxford, I am Adjunct Professor (“Distinguished Scholar in Residence”) of the Department of Economics, American University, Washington D.C.
My research concerns primarily the Philosophy of Information, Information and Computer Ethics, and the Philosophy of Technology. Other research interests include Epistemology, Philosophy of Logic, and the History and Philosophy of Scepticism. I have published over a 150 papers in these areas, in many anthologies and peer-reviewed journals. My works have been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
My lifetime project is a tetralogy (not my term) on the foundation of the philosophy of information, called Principia Philosophiae Informationis. I am half way through. Best scenario, it will probably take me another decade to complete it.
My most recent books are: The Fourth Revolution – How the infosphere is reshaping human reality (Oxford University Press, 2014); The Ethics of Information (Oxford University Press, 2013, volume two of the tetralogy ); The Philosophy of Information (Oxford University Press, 2011, volume one of the tetralogy); Information – A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010); and The Cambridge Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics (edited for Cambridge University Press, 2010).
My previous books include Scepticism and the Foundation of Epistemology – A Study in the Metalogical Fallacies (Brill, 1996); Internet – An Epistemological Essay (Il Saggiatore, 1997); Philosophy and Computing: An Introduction (Routledge, 1999); Sextus Empiricus, The Recovery and Transmission of Pyrrhonism (Oxford University Press, 2002). I am the editor of the Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information (Blackwell, 2004).
I was born in Rome in 1964. I was educated at Rome University La Sapienza, where I graduated in philosophy (laurea) in 1988, first class with distinction. My MPhil (1989) and PhD (1990) are both in philosophy, from the University of Warwick. I worked on philosophical logic as a graduate student with Susan Haack (Warwick) then as a postdoc with Michael Dummett (Oxford).
I was lecturer in philosophy at the University of Warwick in 1990-1. I joined the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Oxford in 1990 and then the Department of Computer Science in 1999. I was Junior Research Fellow (postdoc) in Philosophy at Wolfson College, University of Oxford in 1990-4, Francis Yates Fellow in the History of Ideas at the Warburg Institute, University of London in 1994–95, and Research Fellow in Philosophy at Wolfson College in 1994-2001. During these years in Oxford, I held several lecturerships in different Colleges and taught a variety of subjects, from Ancient Philosophy to Wittgenstein and Mathematical Logic. The didactic experience was extremely demanding but also incredibly instructive. I do not regret it and I do not miss it.
Between 1994 and 1996, I also held a post-doctoral research scholarship at the Department of Philosophy, Università degli Studi di Torino. Between 2001 and 2006, I was Markle Foundation Senior Research Fellow in Information Policy at the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, University of Oxford. Between 2002 and 2008, I was Associate Professor of Logic (tenure) at the Università degli Studi di Bari. In 2006, I was elected Fellow by Special Election of St Cross College. Between 2008 and 2013 I was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire, where I held the UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics.
Between 2006 and 2010, I was President of IACAP (International Association for Computing And Philosophy). In 2009, I became the first philosopher to be elected Gauss Professor by the Göttingen Academy of Sciences. Still in 2009, I was awarded the Barwise Prize by the American Philosophical Association in recognition of my research on the philosophy of information, and I was elected Fellow of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour. In 2010, I was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Springer’s new journal Philosophy & Technology and elected Fellow of the Center for Information Policy Research, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. In 2011, I awarded a laurea honoris causa by the University of Suceava, Romania, for my research on the philosophy of information.
In 2012, I was appointed Chairman of the expert group, organised by the DG INFSO of the European Commission, on the impact of information and communication technologies on the digital transformations occurring in the European society. Still in 2012, I was the recipient of the Covey Award, by the International Association for Computing and Philosophy, for “outstanding research in philosophy and computing”. I was then the recipient of the Weizenbaum Award for 2013 for my “significant contribution to the field of information and computer ethics, through his research, service, and vision” (the Award is given every two years by the International Society for Ethics and Information Technology). Still in 2013, I was elected Fellow of the British Computer Society (FBCS) and Member of the Académie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences (MAIPS). In 2014, I awarded a Cátedras de Excelencia by the University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) for my work on the philosophy and ethics of information. In 2015, I was elected Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow of the European University Institute.
For 2016 I have received the Copernicus Scientist Award by the Institute of Advanced Studies of the University of Ferrara;
I am currently a member of Google Advisory Council on “the right to be forgotten” and of the Advisory Board of the Internet and Society Institute recently launched by Tencent. I am also the Chairman of the Ethics Advisory Board of the European Medical Information Framework.
In 2009-11, I was the PI (Principal Investigator) of the AHRC-funded project “The Construction of Personal Identities Online” and of the Marie Curie Fellowship Grant on “The Ethics of Information Warfare: Risks, Rights and Responsibilities” (FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IEF). In 2011-2013 I was the Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded project “Understanding Information Quality Standards and their Challenges”.
I am currently the PI of the following projects: “The Ethics of Biomedical Big Data” (John Fell Main Award 2014-2015); “The logics of information visualization” (European Union H2020, MSCA-IF-2014, 2015-2017); the “Viral Messaging: its Nature and Dynamics” (Tencent Internet and Society Institute 2015-17); and “An Ethical Framework for the New Civic Responsibilities of Online Service Providers” (Google Academic Grant 2015).