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Topic: Ethics of technology (Read 219 times) previous topic - next topic

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Ethics of technology
I am reading this article:
and come across this tidbit:
5. Most tech education doesn't include ethical training.

In mature disciplines like law or medicine, we often see centuries of learning incorporated into the professional curriculum, with explicit requirements for ethical education. Now, that hardly stops ethical transgressions from happening--we can see deeply unethical people in positions of power today who went to top business schools that proudly tout their vaunted ethics programs. But that basic level of familiarity with ethical concerns gives those fields a broad fluency in the concepts of ethics so they can have informed conversations. And more importantly, it ensures that those who want to do the right thing and do their jobs in an ethical way have a firm foundation to build on.

But until the very recent backlash against some of the worst excesses of the tech world, there had been little progress in increasing the expectation of ethical education being incorporated into technical training. There are still very few programs aimed at upgrading the ethical knowledge of those who are already in the workforce; continuing education is largely focused on acquiring new technical skills rather than social ones. There's no silver-bullet solution to this issue; it's overly simplistic to think that simply bringing computer scientists into closer collaboration with liberal arts majors will significantly address these ethics concerns. But it is clear that technologists will have to rapidly become fluent in ethical concerns if they want to continue to have the widespread public support that they currently enjoy.

which kind of woke me to something I haven't thought deeply about.

Technology is media theory and social theory rolled into a weird Gordian knot. Successful technology alters human systems and our global communications landscape assures that successful technologies will shape the complex, dynamic, chaotic, and fundamentally nonlinear systems of human behavior and activity.  Relying on principles like 'pure free speech' or really any libertarian oriented principles as axiomatic will bring about the best and the worst outcomes of thought experiments regarding the extensions of those principles plus countless unanticipated consequences. Has ethics entered a new age of systems? How could we possibly educate about ethics on principles that place human welfare as results of a principle rather than as the intended cause of a policy? So, rather than saying freedom will produce prosperity for all, it is now imperative to be intentional about, for example, redistribution because systemically capital always concentrates and eventually r>g (as Piketty puts it) creates aristocracies and games of thrones. But that's just an economic example. We know that we cannot manage any chaotic system for sustained yield because externalitities will build up and feedback will collapse the system. i.e. series of collapse and bubbles in biosphere, politics, economies, etc will become the norm.

So, what does it even mean to educate tech workers in ethics?
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • uncool
Re: Ethics of technology
Reply #1
You may enjoy Zeynep Tufekci (sociologist specializing in emerging technology, I think) and Yonatan Zunger (a former Google software engineer), both of whom are prolific on Twitter. For a somewhat different view, there's also David Auerbach, who's less on twitter now (and whom you may recognize from the gamergate threads, but who also was a Microsoft engineer, and apparently was behind one of the most infamous hacks related to instant messaging). You may find his analysis of Trump interesting ( ). For a very different view, there's Meredith Patterson (a language security expert).
  • Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 11:05:47 AM by uncool