Ethics of the coming decades
Do law and ethics keep up with technology? Does Tesla have the right to launch the beta-version of its Autopilot cars on the roads and who is there to decide on it? What is the moral aspect of the PokémonGo? Especially medical innovation ethics have to be carefully examined. Besides, what happens with privacy in the future? Accidents might be statistically expected. However, society has to derive lessons and make rules for the future.
between human and robot
People dream of the possibility of driverless cars, trust-worthy autopilot, safe and fast journey having hands-down. One thing is to come up with an idea. It is a lot more serious to bring innovation to life. For example, Tesla's Autopilot feature is a breakthrough in the field. The electric car is covered in dozens ultrasonic sensors to detect the surrounding environment. Today, the Level 3 automation of Tesla is only of its kind. Level 3 is when the machine is shared between the computer and the driver. Google is testing Level 4 automation, where no human attention is needed. The auto-driving system has a potential to save lives. Nevertheless, inventors have to be responsible when it comes to testing technologies and releasing them to market. Before any of the new technologies are outed to the real life, multiple testings and research have to be made.
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images Image Source: electrek.co
Nevertheless, Tesla's Autopilot is out in its beta-mode, which means that customers have to be cautious and not to rely on the technology 100%. According to the agreement, all the beta-testers have to monitor the autopilot system during the trip every second. However, nobody has underlined that the system fail might prove fatal for the occupants of the car. Moreover, has Tesla forgotten that human is not a fully rational robot? The reason human needs the autopilot is to reduce the deadly accidents on the roads. Most of the times human reaction speed is just not fast enough. Emotions, overconfidence, and wool-gathering cause unresponsible driving. It was predictable that giving the beta-version in hands of the human might cause that the "all-the-time-monitoring" driver will entertain himself with a movie. The combination of unlikely unwanted events and drivers absentmindedness has already resulted in a fatal accident.
So who is responsible for the accident? Was it Tesla's mistake to put the Autopilot beta-version on the road or the weight falls totally on the driver? New standards of launching new technologies to the markets and their testing have to take place as soon as possible.
The next important ethical issues soon to be faced are in the medical sphere. Technical innovations are allowing people to perform health diagnostics at home, which is not bad by itself. Undoubtedly, access to the tests makes healthcare more affordable. For example, the grand winners of Nokia Sensing XChallenge have created exactly that kind of device - portable table-sized diagnostic clinic. While empowering human with such devices, there has to be an appropriate education of how to read the results.
The access to information that consumers are not able to read might result in misleading and harmful self-treatment. Will the creators bear the responsibility? Or users' low medical education level? Or the customers themselves?
The third issue is related to the privacy of the information and possible hacking of medical devices. What are the paths the medical data is traveling and who has rights to read and use it? What can be done to protect the personal information? The wearable devices will be interconnected, which creates a risk of them being hacked. Security experts warn already today that there is a risk of the third party to control the medical devices on the distance without owners consent.
PokémonGo, the game that truly conquered the world in mere months of its release. It has captured all continents, all races, both genders and beat the age target. Even those who are not that much familiar with the Pokémon culture have downloaded the game and enjoy walking around the city to catch little monsters and hatch eggs. However, not everything is that great.
Let's walk through the positive externalities of the game. First of all, of course, it is fun. The game has great graphics and works smoothly on devices across most platforms. It makes gamers get out of their lazy chair and go for long walks outdoors. No game has been able to succeed in making gamers' lives more active. It has been reported that players' daily walks are now at least 2 kilometers, and might even exceed 10 kilometers. What is more, this game has proven to be actively social. PokémonGoers gather in groups for pokémon-hunting which brings the real communication above online chatting. Another benefit, which has not been talked about, is that the game has the potential to lower crime rates. As there are more people on the streets who are walking in groups, there is less opportunity for burglars to perform little crimes or get away unnoticed from the crime scene. As installing more lights in the Central Park decreased the crime rates, the game has the same effect by increasing crowd in the public places.
Now let's turn to negatives of PokémonGo. There have been numerous reports of accidents occurred because of the high concentration on the game while wandering the streets. Gamers' attention is all in the phone while crossing streets, and even while driving a vehicle. To some, it has been just a minor injuries, to others the game has cost a life. Even though now when launching the game, there is a warning "Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings." It does not prevent the accidents. Here lies the same problem as with Tesla's autopilot - who is responsible for giving such device in hands of a human? Shouldn't be there some prevention or notification when crossing the road? Nintendo has to take responsibility for multiple hazards and offer the solution.
And last, but not the least, the privacy issue. The application requires sharing location information. Besides, there is an option to use the camera, which means that the apartment or wherever gamer is, will be shared with third parties and in risk of being hacked. Many people tape the cameras of their laptops so nobody will watch them without their consent. However, not everyone thinks of it while playing the game. And as one conspiracy theory claims, the game is created to correct the flaws of geolocation mapping existing nowadays. By sending players all around the city, Nintendo records all the highs and ups of the lands and the distant corners of the cities. According to the theory, PokémonGo is an advanced version of Google Street View Trekker. Did PokémonGoer agree to that?
Back in 1816, Thomas Jefferson said: "I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must also advance to keep pace with the times."
The world is changing so do moral principles. As life length is prolonging, the ethics and morals need to become higher. That is why there is a development of social sciences and concentration on the long-term plans and solutions. Digital world requires new moral principles or old ones adapted to current and future needs.
While designing new products and services, company has already to consider the future ethics. The questions to be asked is how to protect customers information, what is the responsibility weight on the users' shoulders, and how this product and service serves in the future perspective.
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