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Monday, September 23, 2019

Three things digital ethics can learn from medical ethics

Carissa VĂ©liz
Nature Electronics 2:316-318 (2019)

Here is an excerpt:

Similarly, technological decisions are not only about facts (for example, about what is more efficient), but also about the kind of life we want and the kind of society we strive to build. The beginning of the digital age has been plagued by impositions, with technology companies often including a disclaimer in their terms and conditions that “they can unilaterally change their terms of service agreement without any notice of changes to the users”. Changes towards more respect for autonomy, however, can already be seen. With the implementation of the GDPR in Europe, for instance, tech
companies are being urged to accept that people may prefer services that are less efficient or possess less functionality if that means they get to keep their privacy.

One of the ways in which technology has failed to respect autonomy is through the use of persuasive technologies. Digital technologies that are designed to chronically distract us not only jeopardize our attention, but also our will, both individually and collectively. Technologies that constantly hijack our attention threaten the resources we need to exercise our autonomy.  If one were to ask people about their goals in life, most people would likely mention things such as “spending more time with family” — not many people would suggest “spending more time on Facebook”.  Yet most people do not accomplish their goals — we get distracted.

The info is here.