Our Think Pond
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Questions of ethics in the digital age
Ethics in the digital age, i. e. the question of the prermises and the evaluation of human actions, has been increasingly occupying us at Semler Company in the last few weeks. Not only because I read the book "Origin" by Dan Brown, published in 2017, which fictitiously explores the possibilities of artificial intelligence. It comes to the slightly shocking conclusion that vene though artificial intelligence can become more and more human-like, it does not function per se according to human moral concepts.
But also because some renowned research institutes, including the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Open AI and the Future of Humanity Institute, have published a white paper describing the use of artificial intelligence as a huge human security risk and recommending countermeasures. https://maliciousaireport.com/
And because we were able to read at the end of last year that China is testing a bonus-malus system for its citizens, with which it evaluates, educates and of course monitors its citizens. It is to be rolled out on a large scale in 2020. http://theconversation.com/chi...
It is undisputed that digital technologies, and in particular artificial intelligence, are already bringing great benefits and will bring benefits in the future. DeepL or GoogleTranslate are already working pretty well. (Learning) recognition software is used in areas such as security and health (see e. g. https://flyinghealth.com/de/). In the healthcare sector in particular, digital technologies will make a major contribution to the early diagnosis of diseases such as Alzheimer's and to radically reduce costs - for the benefit of all of us. Germany is at the forefront when it comes to the use of robots. According to the Handelsblatt, there were about 309 robots per 10,000 employees in manufacturing plants in the Federal Republic of Germany in 2016, which exempt workers from repetitive tasks.
But as with all revolutionary developments, there is another side of the coin, and that leaves a queasy feeling behind. We are only just beginning to review the risks. Or rather: most of us are not even able to imagine them as the reading of the already quoted "Malicious AI Report" makes clear. And that leaves a feeling of powerlessness and, yes, vulnerability.
The report gives some recommendations, which show one thing above all: There will be no easy solution and all of us need to contribute -- those who work in business and public institutions, but also we as ordinary citizens. We must address the benefits, but also the dangers of the digital age and develop a culture of responsibility.
We as a global community are asked to acquire knowledge about the possibilities of the digital age, to reflect on it and to deal intensively with ethical issues. And much more intensively than we have done in the past decades. In some way we have to become philosophers who work less with value judgments or condemnation and more with reflection on consequences and implications. Only in this way will we human beings be able to practise judging ethical grey areas wisely and acquire a compass of behaviour appropriate to this age.
This will be exhausting for all of us - but we will be happy to help you practice, e. g. with our seminar offer "Ethics in the digital age".