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Digital Ethics by Futurist Gerd Leonhard - Issue #3

This newsletter is a highly curated weekly collection of topics and opinions that will hopefully add

Digital Ethics by Futurist Gerd Leonhard

February 6 · Issue #3 · View online
Futurist Gerd Leonhard's latest findings from the intersection of humanity and technology, focusing on Digital Ethics i.e. the ethics of exponential technological change and related Technology/Humanity topics

This newsletter is a highly curated weekly collection of topics and opinions that will hopefully add some momentum to the Digital Ethics conversation.
I am always interested in your opinion so please feel free to ping me anytime with comments or feedback.
Live long and prosper!
Zurich / Switzerland
This newsletter is co-created by Futures Agency Curator Peter Van
📌 Check out my recent book ‘Technology vs Humanity’ for more context, now available in 10+ languages 👈

Welcome to the third issue of my Digital Ethics Newsletter.
This week, many organisations seem to jump on the Digital Ethics bandwagon, including McKinsey and the ’elites’ at WEF Davos 2019. Although the smooth-talking in public is all about preventing negative consequences for workers, the hidden agenda of exponential change like AI seems to be a lot more about plain-and-simple cost reductions.
“The choice isn’t between automation and non-automation,” commented Erik Brynjolfsson, the director of M.I.T.’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. “It’s between whether you use the technology in a way that creates shared prosperity, or more concentration of wealth.””
Another main theme this week was the power-wrestle between Apple, Facebook and Google on the mis-use of data in so called “research” applications. We grouped together the more salient items under a new heading “Facebook: a great case study on digital ethics”.
And we also added new headings on “justice” and really “disturbing” developments.
Hope you enjoy the ride; please feel free to share your feedback and input on social media (see links below).
Nick Cave on Why AI Will Never Write a Great Song
Everything on the Internet is fake, almost
The Future of the Mind
Justice and the law
Illinois Court Protects Users' Biometric Privacy
San Francisco wants to ban facial recognition
Police fines people for covering their faces from facial recognition cameras (and they protest)
Facebook (a 5* case study on digital ethics)
Just one week ago, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg delivered the…oh…. 87th iteration of the company’s “we are sorry” tune by admitting:
“We did not anticipate all of the risks from connecting so many people. We need to earn back trust.”
Just a couple of days later, it was revealed that Facebook paid teens (and older people) to harvest data from their iPhones. Oh, it was just a research-app and people consented the use of their data; what could possibly go wrong? Apple thought differently, and took the app from their App Store. Cynically, Facebook is not alone: same happened two days later with respect to a Google App.
Then, on the 15th anniversary of the company - labeled by The Guardian as “The Death of the Private Self” - Mark Zuckerberg kind-of ignored all, and steered the focus away from Facebook to “the internet”, in an attempt to fool us into conflating the two (I hear this is a common problem in many developing countries 🙈)
The only positive signal we got this week was the appointment of three privacy experts that were previously strong critics of Facebook. Bruce Schneier - world-respected security and privacy expert - welcomed the appointments by saying:
“I know these people. They’re ethical, and they’re on the right side. I hope they continue to do their good work from inside Facebook.”
Despite everything, FB’s performance - from a profit and growth perspective - was once again strong, leading to a 10% jump in share price: after all, 2.3 Billion people can’t be wrong.
As long as money is everything, we’ll see more ethics dumping, and a lot more talk than walk when it’s about operating a company in the interest of humans and society at large.
Facebook is clearly a company that needs to be regulated, better sooner than later. But it will require more than an 40-Expert Board.
And yes, my proposal of a Digital Ethics Council with international authority is percolating (more in that soon)
And here is why I left Facebook in March 2018
A recent image I like to use when talking about facebook...
“No One Is at the Controls” (Nick Bolton)
Gerd on: Who will be Mission Control for Humanity?
Let's put aside moral and ethical issues in human evolution (says Peter Diamandis) ⚡️
Ethical considerations for the insurance business
Ethics in Government to be carefully assessed
World Leaders at Davos Call for Global Rules on Tech 🔥
A Global Digital Ethics Council?
Four principles for Machine Learning
Disturbing stuff 😱
Latest deepfake of Jennifer Buscemi should seriously frighten you
DIY designer babies without ethics
Privacy is a human right, we need a GDPR for the world (says Satya Nadella - Microsoft CEO)
Snippet of the week
Ethics dumping (gotta love that meme)
Podcast about my book Technology vs Humanity: a prologue to the Future (chapter 1)
Meme of the week
The Era of “Move Fast and Break Things” Is Over
Gerd's Latest
Merging man and machine: not without consequences
Future of humans & machines: are organisms just algorithms?
Sophia the robot now has a baby sister
The need for Digital Ethics for self driving cars
End note
Stories from 2045
See you next week!

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The Futures Agency, Zurich, Switzerland