Choose at your own risk
Rapid acceleration of technological advancement is making it more challenging to respond in responsible and ethical ways to choices about how to use new technologies.
So writes Arizona State University professor Brad Allenby in an essay for Slate magazine subtitled “How technology is changing our choices and the values that help us make them.”
He contends the quickly expanding capabilities of technology – along with the equally rapid and widespread access to new technologies – is not only testing our value systems but actually altering them.
Allenby is the President’s Professor of Sustainable Engineering in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is also a Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics in ASU’s Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics.
Holding firm within traditional paradigms of ethical behavior is complicated, he writes, because we are faced with having to make choices about the use of powerful technology when it is more difficult than ever to predict the consequences.
He cautions that our decisions about how to use, or not use, the capabilities open to us through advances in fields such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and robotics could shape our future irrevocably.
Allenby concludes that we must develop innovative ways to assess the potential ramifications of our various possible courses of action.
One suggestion: Use science fiction to create scenarios that allow us to explore what our decisions might bring about.
Joe Kullman, [email protected]
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering