In the future, we could solve all crime. But at what cost?

It’s difficult to read, or even talk about technology at the moment without that word “ethics” creeping in. How will AI products affect users down-the-line? Can algorithmic decisions factor in the good of society? How might we reduce the number of fatal road collisions? What tools can we employ to prevent or solve all crime?

surveillance

Now, let’s just make it clear from the off: these are all entirely honorable motives, and their proponents should be lauded. But sometimes even the drive toward an admiral aim – the prevention bad consequences – can ignore critical tensions that have been vexing thinkers for years.

Even if we agree that the consequences of an act are of real import, there are still other human values that can – and should – compete with them when we’re assimilating the best course of action. Continue reading

All teens make mistakes, but hyperconnected Generation Z faces steeper consequences

Teenage Young Teen Youth Portrait Tween Casual

Last week a young contestant on a British reality TV show was left humiliated after producers chose to remove him from the program’s Australian jungle setting after just a couple of days. Their reason? Tweets and social media messages sent in 2011, when the vlogger was in his teens.

Now let’s be clear, the things that Jack Maynard said were unpalatable and offensive. They are not acceptable sentiments in any scenario, and certainly not from someone with a YouTube reach of several million and an incredible leverage over (predominantly) teenage girls.  Nevertheless, watching a young man’s fledgling media career left in tatters should prompt us to sharpen our focus on an increasingly important question: in our hyperconnected era, to what extent can we punish and pillory the adult for the sins of the teen?   Continue reading

The rise of the tech police: Are we handing too much power to our digital masters?

police2

It was reported this week that Twitter had stripped several far-right and white supremacist accounts of their blue “verification” badge. According to Twitter spokespeople, the badge – which was introduced to verify the authenticity of accounts belonging to high-profile individuals – had come to signify an implicit endorsement from the company. A sort of stamp of Twitter approval.

Now, it is understandable, if not laudable, to retract anything that so-much as hints at approval when it comes to such ignorant and warped individuals. But, it does also open a rather large bag of worms.  Continue reading