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The 15 “We shall not” statements from my latest book, Technology vs Humanity – and what has happened since I published it

The 15 Shall Not’s, below, are excerpted from chapter 10 of my 2016 book Technology vs. Humanity which is, thankfully, becoming increasingly popular around the globe, and is now available in 11 languages. It is pretty amazing how many of these 15 concepts that I presented less than 3 years ago are now being debated every single day, and that some worries that seemed pretty far-fetched in 2016 now feel totally real. Check out the links I provide after each original quote from the book, delineated by ‘Now read….”

“In furtherance of developing and embedding clear and globally consistent digital ethics, here are some specific examples of technological pitfalls that we should avoid if we want humanity to prevail. I am keenly aware that, in providing thought starters for the debate, some of these suggested commandments might turn out to be overly simplified, idealistic, impractical, utopian, incomplete, and controversial. Hence, I am humbly presenting them simply in the spirit of starting a discussion:

  1. We shall not require or plan for humans to gradually become technology themselves, just because that would satisfy technology or technology companies and/or stimulate growth. Now read: How Capitalism Betrayed Privacy (Tim Wu, NYT)
  2. We shall not allow humans to be governed or essentially directed by technologies such as AI, the IoT and robotics. Now read: What it takes to put your phone away (New Yorker)
  3. We shall not alter human nature by programming or manufacturing new creatures with the help of technology. Now read: CRISPR editing is coming for the womb (WIRED)
  4. We shall not augment humans in order to achieve supernatural powers that would eliminate the clear distinction between man and machine. Now read: Environmentalists are Wrong: Nature Isn’t Sacred and We Should Replace It (Zoltan Istvan)
  5. We shall not empower machines to empower themselves, and thereby circumvent human control. Now read: AI systems should be accountable, explainable, and unbiased, says EU (The Verge)
  6. We shall not seek to replace trust with tracking in our communications and relationships just because technology makes this universally possible.  Now read: This Time, It’s Personal
    How digital technology alienates you from your soul (Douglas Rushkoff via Medium)
  7. We shall not plan for, justify, or desire total surveillance because of a perceived need for total security. | Read: One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority (NYT)
  8. We shall not allow bots, machines, platforms, or other intelligent technologies to take over essential democratic functions in our society which should actually be carried out by humans themselves. Now read: Are We Sleepwalking Into A Control Society? Medium.
  9. We shall not seek to diminish or replace real-life human culture with algorithmic, augmented, or virtual simulations. Now read: 15 months of fresh hell at Facebook (Wired)
  10. We shall not seek to minimize human flaws just to make a better fit with technology. Now read: Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are changing how we interact with the world by doing it for us (TheNextWeb)
  11. We shall not attempt to abolish mistakes, mystery, accidents, and chance by using technology to predict or prevent them, and we shall not strive to make everything explicit just because technology may make it feasible to do so. Now read: Connecting your brain to the Internet sounds great – but is it a good idea (by Gerd🙂
  12. We shall not create, engineer, or distribute any technology with the primary goal of generating addiction to it. Now read: If the future is full of VR addicts, should we bring them back to reality? (Big Think)
  13. We shall not require robots to make moral decisions, or equip them to challenge our decisions. Now read: Meet the nonprofit that’s already fighting for the rights of sentient robots (TheNextWeb)
  14. We shall not demand or stipulate that humans should also be exponential in nature. Now read: Elon Musk says brain-computer interfaces are coming soon (Independent.uk)
  15. We shall not confuse a clean algorithm for an accurate picture of human reality (“software is cheating the world”), and we shall not give undue power to technology because it generates economic benefits. Now read: TRISTAN HARRIS: TECH IS ‘DOWNGRADING HUMANS.’ IT’S TIME TO FIGHT BACK (Wired)

Leonhard, Gerd. Technology vs. Humanity: The coming clash between man and machine (FutureScapes) (Kindle Locations 2484-2494). Fast Future Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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