Technoethics

technoethics

Technoethics

I recently read Ethics of Technology by Wikipedia, a page dedicated to discussing the ethical relationship between humanity, technology and society.

You can read more about technoethics here.

Technoethics studies the ethical implications between the relationships of technology and society. Technology, being defined as simply a device or gadget, has no inherent moral or ethical compass. These qualities, therefore, become the responsibility of the creator, implementer and user.

Technology and humanity are so intertwined that human evolution is reliant on technology to progress. Technoethics ensure technological developments consider the moral implications, risks involved, and individual rights. These encompass everything from issues concerning access, health and safety, and even human judgement nuances. Topics currently being scrutinised under technoethics include copyright, cyber criminality, privacy, genetic modifications, pre-natal testing and citizen journalism. One way to ensure consistency in applying technoethics to new technology is by utilising Technoethical Design (TED), which considers the ethical implications throughout the design process.

But how do we apply Technoethics to our everyday lives?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the globe, governments and organisations have scrambled to implement technology that can trace individual movement and identify potential exposure to the virus. But this comes with ethical and moral consequences. Does the government have an ethical responsibility to ensure its citizens are safe with minimal virus spread? But what about individual privacy? The apps used to monitor contact tracing are storing data on our whereabouts, habits and likely social interactions. Can safety and health be prioritised over our right to privacy? These are some of the ethical questions raised by Technoethics in the case of Covid-10 contact tracing.

When considering an example such as the current contact tracing technologies, it becomes apparent that technoethics aren’t always easy to determine. Instead, they form a complicated web of moral, ethical, social, health, and legal issues in cases like contact tracing. Perhaps if TED was applied from the start, contact tracing’s use and data storage might never have been in question.

“Our problem isn’t that our ethics haven’t
caught up with technology; it’s that we
don’t use the ethics we have”

– Quentin Schultze

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