On ethics in technology

Long ago (probably before you were even born :-O), Eden’s Thaw posted a moral question.

Hypothetical situation:

A Thal working in a well-funded, secret weapons facility develops advanced crowd control technology. The device causes immense, torturous pain to everyone within a 50 meter or so range by sending pain signals to the brain via radio waves. He considers it a great success and proof of human progress since the device is non-lethal and has no lasting physical ramifications for the victim.

The Melon who funds the facility has a slightly less-capable version of the device deployed to all mission critical and high value areas of the world for the local security forces to use. He increases their funding and commissions an improved version of the device with new features and enhanced capabilities.

A thousand negroes riot and run roughshod through a major world city based on some flimsy pretext — imagined or encouraged — of social injustice.

To restore order to the city, the MT who is second in command of the local security forces orders the device to be deployed all throughout the city’s streets.

Cro-mag street cops set the device off near the rioters, instantly paralyzing hundreds into excruciating pain. While collectively trying to decide what to do with the mass of rioters (nobody seems to know the protocol for this), they leave the device running for hours — ruthlessly torturing every person within its range the entire time. Some cops even spotted laughing in the faces of the paralyzed rioters while also slapping their faces, kicking and spitting at them.

Later that evening, a TM appears on television across from a Melon to debate the situation. The TM questions the methods while tacitly endorsing the brutality with a few humorous, offhand remarks.

Who’s the bad guy?

My response is in the thread, but the gist of it is that the moral decision is the thal’s to make. Once a technology exists, the moral questions become irrelevant. The technology is going to be used.

Wow Mr. Pera, are you saying moral philosophy has real-life applications? You bet, squirt!

We’ve previously discussed a system called CRISPR-cas9, which is dramatically reducing the cost and effort required to do gene editing. In fact, the barrier to entry is now so low that a group of biologists is calling for a moratorium on using the method to modify the human genome. Writing in the journal Science (abstract), the scientists warn that we’ve reached the point where the ethical questions surrounding DNA alteration can be put off no longer. David Baltimore, one of the group’s members, said, “You could exert control over human heredity with this technique, and that is why we are raising the issue. … I personally think we are just not smart enough — and won’t be for a very long time — to feel comfortable about the consequences of changing heredity, even in a single individual.” Another group of scientists called for a similar halt to human germline modification, and the International Society for Stem Cell Research says it agrees.

Slashdot summary
Scientists: It’s Time To Resolve the Ethics of Editing Human Genome

You guys are so late to this party you can’t even begin to imagine. Genetic ethics are so easy, a caveman could do it.

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About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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3 Responses to On ethics in technology

  1. Heaviside says:

    I oppose the development of new technology too. That stuff should stay in New Swabia where it belongs. It would be completely irresponsible to do any productive research where the ZOG can find it.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      I’m going to pretend this is also why my writing is nigh incoherent. These ideas are too important!

      • Heaviside says:

        I’m a Hegelian about matters like this. Sometimes you make the right decision apparently without knowing it, which just means that you knew but you didn’t know that you knew at the time. “Yes, that might have looked like an accident, but it was really the unconscious working-out of Reason in history. Therefore, I deserve all the credit.”

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