photo of Owen King smiling while standing next to a tree

About me

Hi, I'm Owen. Welcome to my home page!

I mainly work on digital information — how to save it, organize it, and keep its meaning intact over the long term. I'm into the practical, epistemic, and ethical implications of automating information processing, especially as related to inclusion, access, and authenticity.

I came to archives and information science by way of philosophy and computer science. You can read more about some of my philosophical work below.

Please use masculine (he/him) pronouns for me, or use gender-neutral pronouns.

Archives and information science

I work at GBH Archives, on the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, where we steward many thousands of hours of radio and television programs from US public media stations.

Earlier, I worked at the State Archives of North Carolina on digital preservation metadata, and the J. Murrey Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte on Wikidata initiatives for authority control.

I have an MS in information science from the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Philosophy and ethics

I finished my PhD in philosophy at the Department of Philosophy of The Ohio State University in 2016, while I was visiting faculty in the Department of Philosophy at Oberlin College. After that, I was a postdoc at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Twente.

Ethics of computing and information

Information ethics has been a major strand of my philosophical research. I'm especially interested in the ethics of automated prediction, particularly self-fulfilling prophecies and feedback loops in the context of artificial intelligence. For a detailed theory, see "Self-fulfilling Prophecy in Practical and Automated Prediction".

I've also focused on the ethics of artificial social cognition, i.e., ethical issues about the automated attribution of mental states (intentions, desires, beliefs) to human beings. Such predictions have moral dimensions beyond familiar worries about accuracy, stereotyping, and privacy. For an introduction, see my article about "Presumptuous Aim Attribution."

Philosophy of well-being

My dissertation, supervised by Justin D'Arms, was called Three Kinds of Goodness for a Person. The aim of my dissertation was to draw more careful distinctions between well-being and related normative categories, such as the goodness of a person's life on the whole. I have developed this work in several articles.

All my research in philosophy is available from my PhilPeople profile.

Teaching in philosophy and practical ethics

I've taught at Ohio State, Oberlin College, the University of Twente, and the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. Back in 2013, I devised and created the Ohio State's course on Computing Ethics (Philosophy 1337).

Online identities

My philosophy articles are listed in my PhilPeople profile.

My ORCID ID is 0000-0002-5246-3037.

You can see all my research in Google Scholar.

In the Fediverse? Follow me on Mastodon.

Connect with me via my LinkedIn profile.

Other thoughts and resources

Support for reproductive choice

I believe that people's bodily autonomy and equal ability to take part in society as they see fit include the right to end an unwanted pregnancy.

I am committed to supporting people in accessing abortion and other reproductive health services. If you feel similarly, you can support the National Network of Abortion Funds and the Carolina Abortion Fund, which help connect US residents to abortion services.

(Obviously, this statement expresses my own value judgments, not necessarily those of any organization with which I am affiliated.)

Philosophy paper marking notation

Do you teach philosophy? Then maybe you end up writing the same guidance on student papers again and again. Maybe you would find some shorthand useful? Check out the Philosophy Paper Marking Notation & Abbreviations I've used. Feel free to try it! Let me know if you have any feedback.

Software antifeatures

Do you ever feel like the software on your phone or laptop is doing a lot of things that aren't necessarily in your best interest? If so, you may be encountering software antifeatures. At a personal level, antifeatures have perturbed me for many years. Additionally, antifeatures raise ethical issues for software development. I've written an introduction to some of the issues, available here: "Is It a Feature? Is it a Bug? No, It’s an Antifeature."