New advances in technology constantly push humanity into uncharted territory.
Sometimes this territory brings us questions we might not have imagined needing answers so soon, like, “Is editing the DNA of human embryos moral?”
Other questions are more familiar, only with an updated context. For example, the question of choosing which life to save in a life-or-death scenario is nothing new in philosophy, but now we’re trying to find a more concrete answer so we can ethically program self-driving cars.
These ethical questions technology presents us are not just fascinating, but increasingly, they’re practical and urgent too. Exploring them in detail and landing on some kind of consensus can help us chart a course in our rapidly accelerating and evolving world.
After yet another year of breakthroughs in science and technology, here are a few of the unanswered ethical conundrums kicked up in 2016 and a collection of articles exploring their answers.
Artificial intelligence is biased.
- Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem
Kate Crawford | The New York Times
- It’s Too Late—We’ve Already Taught AI to Be Racist and Sexist
Jordan Pearson | Motherboard
- Artificial Intelligence Will Be as Biased and Prejudiced as Its Human Creators
Nathan Collins | Pacific Standard
Everyone is still fretting robots taking our jobs.
- Robots, Jobs and the Human Fear of Change
Steve Cousins | TechCrunch
- Our Automated Future
Elizabeth Kolbert | The New Yorker
Technology is making it harder to separate fact from fiction.
- How Technology Disrupted the Truth
Katharine Viner | The Guardian
- New Digital Face Manipulation Means You Can’t Trust Video Anymore
Andrew O’Keefe | Singularity Hub
Gene editing could be the end of disease, but for those in opposition, it feels like the end of morality.
- The Ethical Dilemma of Gene Sequencing
Grace Wilson | Mother Jones
- The Coming Genetic Editing Age of Humans Won’t Be Easy to Stomach
Zoltan Istvan | Motherboard
Self-driving cars will face an old moral dilemma if forced to choose which lives to save.
- Should a Driverless Car Kill the Kid or the Retiree?
Jacopo Barigazzi | Politico
- Self-Driving Cars Will Teach Themselves to Save Lives—but Also Take Them
Cade Metz | Wired
- Autonomous Cars and Their Ethical Conundrum
Tim Bajarin | Recode
Putting artificial intelligence on an altruistic path is going to take a lot of collective effort, and we’re just getting started.
- Tech Titans Join Forces to Stop AI From Behaving Badly
Will Knight | MIT Technology Review
- New Research Center to Explore Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
John Markoff | The New York Times
- Do No Harm, Don’t Discriminate: Official Guidance Issued on Robot Ethics
Hannah Devlin | The Guardian
We’re unsure whether technology is an equalizer or polarizer.
- Hell Is Silicon Valley People Who Won’t Grow Up
- A Big Shift Is Coming, and It Could Uber-ize Entire Industries
Jason Dorrier | Singularity Hub
- 2016: The Year Facebook Became the Bad Guy
Olivia Solon | The Guardian
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