I found the punchy meme of ‘Progress is not an ethical principle' in a recent Guardian post about ChatGPT: “Humans have a long track record of wishful thinking and underestimating the risks of new breakthroughs. Commercial interests push technology as a new religion whose central article of faith is that more technology is always better. Web giants want to dazzle users into overestimating their AI tools’ utility, encouraging humanity to prematurely cede authority to them far beyond their competence. Entrepreneurial attitude and scientific curiosity have produced many of the modern era’s advances. But progress is not an ethical principle. The danger is not machines being treated like humans, but humans being treated like machines“.
So we decided to ask ChatGPT (I just got my Pro Account:) about this meme, and here is what we found:
“Progress is a term that can be understood in a variety of ways, depending on the context in which it is used. In some contexts, “progress” may refer to improvements in technology, medicine, or scientific knowledge, while in other contexts, it may refer to social, political, or economic developments. Regardless of the specific meaning of “progress,” however, it is true that progress alone is not an ethical principle. Ethical principles are fundamental beliefs about what is right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust, and they guide our actions and decisions in a way that is consistent with our values and goals…”
While progress may lead to improvements in various areas of human life, it does not necessarily ensure that those improvements are ethical or just. For example, progress in technology can lead to the development of powerful weapons that can be used to cause harm and destruction, and progress in the economy can lead to growing inequalities and exploitation of vulnerable populations. Therefore, it is important to consider the ethical implications of progress and to ensure that it is guided by ethical principles that prioritize human well-being, justice, and sustainability. Ethical principles such as respect for human dignity, fairness, and responsibility can help us to evaluate the impact of progress and to steer it in a direction that is consistent with our values and goals…”
Nicely said, Sydney:)