Ph.D. University of Kansas (Philosophy) 1976

Deborah G. Johnson retired as the Anne Shirley Carter Olsson Professor of Applied Ethics in the STS Program within the Department of Engineering and Society.  She continues to hold that title with emeritus status and she continues to be active in research and occasional teaching

During her career, Johnson has taught engineering students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Virginia.

In research, Johnson is best known for her work on computer ethics and engineering ethics.  She published one of the first textbooks on computer ethics in 1985.  The book was revised three times and translated into multiple languages.  Drawing on her training in philosophy and ethics, she has published on a wide range of topics all directly or indirectly having to do with ethical, social, and policy implications of technology, especially information technology.

Johnson’s research has repeatedly received support from the National Science Foundation including awards focused on Surveillance and Transparency as Sociotechnical Systems of Accountability and a project on Ethics for Developing Technologies: An Analysis of Artificial Agents.

Active in professional organizations, Johnson has served as President of the Society for Philosophy and Technology, President of the International Society for Ethics and Information Technology (INSEIT), Treasurer of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computers and Society, Chair of the American Philosophical Association Committee on Computers and Philosophy, and a member of the Executive Board of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.


  • Covey Award from the International Association for Computing and Philosophy 2018
  • Joseph Weizenbaum Award for life-long contributions to information and computer ethics, International Society for Ethics and Information Technology June, 2015
  • Honorary Degree (Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa) from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Linköping University May, 2009
  • Jon Barwise Prize for contributions to computing and philosophy, American Philosophical Association 2004
  • Sterling Olmsted Award, Liberal Education Division of the American Society for Engineering Education 2001
  • ACM SIGCAS 2000 Making A Difference Award 2000

Research Interests

  • Ethics and Information Technology
  • Engineering Ethics
  • Ethics, AI, and Robots
  • STS Theory and Policy Implications

Selected Publications

  • Can Engineering Ethics Be Taught? ABS D. G. Johnson. In the Special Issue of The Bridge on Engineering Ethics, March 3, 2017 Volume 47 Issue 1.
  • "Reframing AI Discourse." D.G. Johnson and M. Verdicchio. Minds and Machines (2017): 1-16.
  • "AI Anxiety." D.G. Johnson and M. Verdicchio. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 68.9 (2017): 2267-2270.
  • Rethinking the Social Responsibilities of Engineers as a Form of Accountability. D.G. Johnson. (2017). In D. Michelfelder, B. Newberry, Q. Zhu, eds., Philosophy and Engineering: Exploring Boundaries, Expanding Connections. Springer International Publishing.
  • Ethical Issues in Big Data. D.G. Johnson. (2017 In J.C. Pitt and A. S. Heflin, eds. The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Technology. Routledge.

Featured Grants & Projects

  • ViSmedia Project

    Adjunct Professor for the ViSmedia Project, Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway. [ViSmedia investigates how the adoption and adaption of visual surveillance technologies in the news media might be optimized to integrate the societal responsibility of high quality journalism.]

  • Technology & Society: Engineering our Sociotechnical Future.

    A revised, second edition of Technology & Society: Engineering our Sociotechnical Future. With J.M. Wetmore (Eds.). The MIT Press, forthcoming.

  • Engineering Ethics: Contemporary Debates.

    Yale University Press, forthcoming.