Bioethics News

Time for a technoethics commission?

As another presidential bioethics commission finishes up, A US computational scientist has suggested the next US president should create a ‘technoethics commission’. 

Daniel N. Rockmore, professor of in the Department of Mathematics, Computational Science, and Computer Science at Dartmouth College, recently published an article in The Conversation advocating for the establishment of clear “social norms” for digital technologies “through a high-profile, public, collaborative process.”

Rockmore, while not wishing to engage in scaremongering, believes that many are too ready to embrace the convenience of new computer technologies without considering the potential dangers:

“…the fact remains that we are thoughtlessly deploying technologies with little concern for, or debate around, their context and implications for society.”

He suggests that digital technologies have the potential to profoundly effect the ‘human condition’, and that a commission could be a value platform in which to discuss such risks:

“…surely questions around topics like wearables, privacy, transparency, information ownership and access, workplace transformation, and the attendant implications for self-definition, self-improvement and human interaction are at the foundation of any consideration of the human condition.”

“…a commission with representation from a range of constituencies, engaged in open conversation, might serve to illuminate the various interests and concerns.”

Late last month Nature published an editorial expressing concerns about the unregulated development of artificial intelligence technology. The journal wrote, “…it is crucial that progress in technology is matched by solid, well-funded research to anticipate the scenarios it could bring about, and to study possible political and economic reforms that will allow those usurped by machinery to contribute to society.”

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.