New podcast: conversation on Digital Ethics, Chapter 10 of Gerd Leonhard’s book ‘Technology vs Humanity’. Technology does not have ethics – but we must!
Download the Mp3: gerd leonhard and peter van on digital ethics technology vs humanity
Here are some snippets from the book as referenced in our conversation:
“It is very important to remind ourselves that ethics are not at all the same as religion. In his enlightening 2011 book Beyond Religion, the Dalai Lama remarked that everybody has ethics and only some people have religion, and then called for the establishment of global secular ethics to guide our most elemental decisions such as those on autonomous weapons systems with the power to kill without human supervision . Ethics versus religion is an essential distinction we need to maintain when discussing hot-button topics such a human genome editing or nonbiological augmentations of humans.
Arthur C. Clarke highlighted this critical distinction in a 1999 interview: “So now people assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection. But the basis of morality is really very simple and doesn’t require religion at all”
Creating a Global Digital Ethics Council: How would we define ethics that are fit for the exponential age? I would like to address two main concerns: Firstly, to try and define what a globally agreeable set of ethics could be for an exponentially Digital Age; and secondly, to try and define what we would need to do to ensure that human well-being and ethical concerns actually remain on top of the agenda globally, and are not taken over by machine thinking. We need to define a set of bottom-line digital ethics—ethics that are fit for the Digital Age: open enough not to put the brakes on progress or hamper innovation, yet strong enough to protect our humanness. A compass, not a map, towards a future that will see increasingly powerful technologies first empower, then augment and then increasingly threaten humanity. To this end, I propose that we create a Global Digital Ethics Council (GDEC) tasked with defining what the ground rules and most basic and universal values of such a dramatically different, fully digitized society should be”
“Five new human rights for the Digital Age:
Here are five core human rights that I humbly suggest might form part of a future Digital Ethics Manifesto:
- The right to remain natural, i.e. biological – We must have the choice to exist in an unaugmented state . We need to retain the right to be employed, use public services, buy things, and function in society without the need to deploy technology on or inside our bodies. These #WiredOrFired fears are already an issue (albeit deemed mostly harmless) as far as mobile devices and social media are concerned. However, one can easily imagine a future where we may be forced to wear augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) glasses, visors, or helmets to qualify for employment, or even worse, be required to use or implant specific wetware apps as a condition of employment. Mere humans would no longer be good enough—and this isn’t a desirable future.
- The right to be inefficient if and where it defines our basic humanness – We must have the choice to be slower than technology. We should not make efficiency more important than humanity. It may soon be vastly more efficient and much cheaper to use digital health diagnostics via platforms like Scanadu than to see a doctor every time I have a medical issue. I believe these technologies are in the main positive and could be one of the keys to lowering the cost of healthcare. However, does this mean we should penalize people who choose to do otherwise, or force compliance upon those that don’t want their health data in the cloud?
- The right to disconnect – We must retain the right to switch off connectivity, to “go dark” on the network, and to pause communications, tracking, and monitoring. We can expect many employers and companies to make hyperconnectivity a default requirement in the near future. As an employee or insured driver you may become liable for unauthorized disconnection if you and/or your car can no longer be tracked on the network. To be self-contained and technically disconnected at times of our own choosing is a fundamentally important right because disconnecting allows us to refocus on our unmediated environment and to be in the moment. It also reduces the risk of digital obesity (see chapter 7) and lessens the reach of inadvertent surveillance. Offline may be the new luxury, but it should remain a basic right.
- The right to be anonymous – In this coming hyperconnected world, we should still have the option of not being identified and tracked, such as when using a digital application or platform, or when commenting or criticizing if it’s harmless to others and does not infringe on anyone else….
More via Amazon: Leonhard, Gerd. Technology vs. Humanity: The coming clash between man and machine (FutureScapes) (Kindle Locations 2399-2401). Fast Future Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Download some recent slideshows / presentations related to Digital Ethics:
Watch my Youtube Playlist on Digital Ethics