The technological evolution has been outpacing virtually any other field, most noticeably law and ethics. The alarming disparity between these different areas raises a question related to the uncontrollable effect the technological advances would have on the users themselves. Although ethics and ethos come from the same Greek root ēthikós which relates to morality and moral character, ethos relates to “guiding belief of a person, group, or institution” as defined by Merriam-Webster. On the other side, ethics relates the concepts defined, that normally stem from these beliefs. Is there place for ethos in the future is a vital question, that would provide a clear understanding on the impact of technology of our life, and in particular the effect of the increasing immersion in the metaverse, and the expected invasion of the machines to our daily interactions.
Towards a Human-Centric Technology?
The central issue can be summarized by the view of Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer who said “We shouldn’t assume that evolution is guided by some kind of providence to reach the best ethical outcomes. We could imagine better outcomes: more intelligent, altruistic, and compassionate humans, for example. Maybe that’s what we need to do to protect the future of humanity.”
The development of technology should rather be human-centric. Instead of humans getting used to technology, technology should be built to cater for the traits of human beings. The guiding beliefs, defined by the ethos, should be immutable. In particular, the ethical norms that have been reigning for some should be the main constraints during the design of new technological innovations.
Ethics to Regulate the Adoption of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been invading the workplace as most companies have been radically modifying their business process to incorporate AI. According to a recent report by IBM, more than one-third of companies around the world have already incorporated AI to take their business to the next level, with another 42 percent exploring the use of AI in their business process. Undoubtedly, the considerations for such decisions are mainly related to driving down costs and creating avenues to generate additional profits.
Accountability is a key step to ensure that the adoption of AI is following the “correct moral path”. Although the basic component of AI algorithms is a set of mathematical relations that try to emulate the learning process in the human brain, the decision and assessment is done by humans at the end of day. This could result in a significant amount of bias. Amazon fell into the trap of bias with its AI-based recruitment tool. The developed algorithm discriminated against women in the selection process and was later scrapped. This simple, yet illustrative example demonstrates that hastiness in technology adoption can lead to significantly adverse results. This has pushed into more transparency and explainability in the development of AI algorithms.
Can Machines Have Ethos in the Future?
The scenario envisioned by the movie “I, Robot” in 2004 will very soon become a reality. Human beings will soon have to co-exist and communicate with machines which are becoming increasingly sentient. While humans can somehow rely on some basics of ethical thinking, machines are more calculating devices who think and act according to their interpretation of different scenarios.
Can machines have the same ethos in the future as human beings? The answer is no unless we teach them to do so and act similarly to humans. As a minimum requirement, we can teach machines some rules that would convey to a certain extent some ethical behavior. Morality, which is the basics of ethos, is something that cannot be translated to rules that can be taught to machines.
Detaching from the Real World with the Metaverse
The Metaverse is the new entrant to the large pool of “problematic” technologies. This virtual parallel world has had an unprecedented interest in the last couple of years. Each industry has jumped into this new virtual world where properties and other commodities are being sold. The Metaverse also somehow builds on the Web 3.0 concept which should be the basis over which applications can be developed. Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, AI and extended reality are all parts of the unison of these two futuristic technological footprints which are driving humans away from the real physical world to an immersive digital one.
The common practice of translating ethical considerations into laws and regulations is harder to implement in a digital and decentralized world where a central governing entity does not exist. The peculiar thing is that people are already in the Metaverse in a time where rules and regulations have not been thought of. There could be many abusive activities taking place in the virtual world without even having the opportunity to track or even solve as no norms can concretely be applied.
Workforce Changes and Ethos in the Job
The effect of an increasing reliance on technology has been seen within changes in employment dynamics in companies around the world. A lot of jobs have become unnecessary and redundant while new ones are being highly sought after, typically in areas related to data sciences. This is a normal encounter in the business circles. However, the rapid variations are causing an increasingly unemployment rates among persons whose qualifications do not fit anymore into the new job description.
The notable increase in technology adoption has been happening at a frightening pace with an unprecedented rate of adoption. 5G, artificial intelligence, Metaverse, Web 3.0, cryptocurrencies, machine to machine and human to machine interactions are some of the headlines that will shape our future. In this midst of all these innovations, does ethos still have a place is a question that is answered by the efforts we are willing to spend to make the future technology human-centric, that is, a technology that abides by the same principles that we do in our normal life. Yes, there is a place in the future for ethos if we can rapidly control the technology before it gets really out of control.
“Inside Telecom provides you with an extensive list of content covering all aspects of the tech industry. Keep an eye on our Technology news space to stay informed and up-to-date with our daily articles.”