Provisional contents


1: Lost and Found

Why tech ethics and why now? To include: the era of contrition, tech culture and the Californian Ideology, Kranzberg’s Laws and the myth of neutrality, barriers to ethics.

Ethical ideas introduced: instrumentalism v determinism, morals/ethics equivalence, mediation theory.

2: Do No Harm?

To include: Bias in machine learning and other emergent technologies, sources of bias and mitigating methods, algorithmic accountability, the ‘right to explanation’ debate, user safety including harassment and user crisis, the merits and problems of a Hippocratic Oath for technology, the importance of unintended consequences.

Ethical ideas introduced: codes of ethics, ethical relativism vs absolutism, moral imagination.

3: Persuasive Mechanisms

On the persuasive potential of technology. To include: active and passive behaviour change, technological addiction, the attention economy, propaganda and fake news, the ethics of experimentation, automated persuasion and ‘hypernudge’.

Ethical ideas introduced: is/ought fallacy, the golden and platinum rules, principle of double effect, deontology, IRBs, the veil of ignorance, the paradox of tolerance.

4: The Data Deluge

The ethics of the data-driven economy. To include: data metaphors and ideologies, ‘surveillance capitalism’, definitions of privacy, de-ID and re-ID, data protection law (including GDPR), design strategies for fair exchange, data friction and materialisation, technical interventions inc. ‘pocket AI’ and differential privacy.

Ethical ideas introduced: utilitarianism & consequentialism, scientific morality, the precautionary principle, the designated dissenter, privacy by design.

5: Seeing Through New Eyes

Exploring a world augmented by burgeoning intelligence. To include: computer vision and the 'robot-readable world', the divisive potential of AR, the ethics of autonomous vehicles (aka ‘the trolley problem is a red herring’), the linguistic effects of conversation with machines, the impact of ‘bug-ridden everything’.

Ethical ideas introduced: trolley problem, autonomy, the social contract.

6: You Have Twenty Seconds To Comply

Looking at technology as force, deployed by militaries, governments, terrorists, hackers, and scammers. To include: hacking, ransomware and DDoS attacks, predictive policing, authoritarian surveillance, user protection v legitimate security needs, technology in citizen dissent, Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, what should we not automate?

Ethical ideas introduced: ethics of killing, conscientious objection.

7: Software Is Heating The World

The ethics of technology’s impacts on the environment. To cover: blurring physico-digital boundaries, potential harm from software (e.g. VW defeat devices), planned obsolescence and consumer technology upgrade cycles, rare earth material mining, the energy costs of the internet, 3d printing and repair-at-home, sustainable design.

Ethical ideas introduced: environmental ethics, natural law.

8: No Cash, No Jobs, No Hope?

An examination of technology’s socioeconomic impact. To include: the politics and ethics of disruption, cryptocurrencies and the end of cash, the AI breakdown of employment, Silicon Valley longevity projects, technology’s role in inequality, Universal Basic Income, globalisation vs nationalism, and the search for human meaning in a post-work future.

Ethical ideas introduced: Marxist ethics, ethics of capitalism.

9: Everyday Intelligence

How does the moral landscape change if/when artificial intelligence is mundane and even superior to human intelligence? To include: doomsday Singularity prophecies, sex robots, the AI as moral agent, transhumanism, Roko’s basilisk, Asimov’s laws, relinquishment and the ‘AI box’ experiment.

Ethical ideas introduced: Animal/non-human ethics, ‘speciesism’, suffering, personhood.

10: A New Digital Philosophy

How can we create more ethical tech and design cultures? To include: personal/company/community obligations for ethical conduct, the role of professional organisations, means of engaging the public in technological debate, ethical whistleblowing, business cases for ethics.

Ethical ideas introduced: virtue ethics, feminist ethics.