In this week’s spotlight I wish to discuss the chasm between our sciences and ethical concerns as they guide our public policies. We have discussed on this show the lack of ethical guidelines for matters such as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, the use of machine learning for manipulation purposes, and so forth; but there are many other areas where science has reached a capability that the world is not prepared to deal with, and/or is ignorant of the possible ramifications given the deployment of some of these technologies. Given that is the case, what are we to do?
Top Ethical Questions
An article in New Scientist outlined the top ten ethical questions in science. They were identified as:
- Should we give other animals rights?
- Should we edit our children’s genomes?
- Should we make everyone normal?
- Should we abandon privacy online?
- Should we give robots the right to kill?
- Should we let synthetic life forms loose?
- Should we geoengineer the planet?
- Should we impose population controls?
- Should we colonize other planets?
- Should we stop doing science?
Now some of you are no doubt at least a little surprised by some items in the list—but think about this list for a moment. Is science going too fast? Should there be a moratorium on science until the world catches up? I mean, the New Scientist publication listed what they perceive as the top ten, but there are many other issues. How about key AI technologies that have questionable benefits, or rather extensive drawbacks such as deep fake, face swapping technology, and Neuralink, which aims to improve brain-machine interfaces? How about cloning or invitro designer babies. Indeed, many old ones are still unsettled like animal testing?
In other words, as science moves forward society falls back. How are we to fix this?
Bottom line, we all must become more aware and more involved. Some progress over issues of the past has gained traction only because people became involved and began championing causes, such as with PETA and animal rights. That said however, where are the organized public groups intent on pushing the ethical use of science? How many of us even understand the issues? How about matters such as fusion energy—what do we know about that? How about weapons and military R&D—what do we know about that? And there is so much more to attend to.
I think we need a public forum where these matters are openly discussed and an action group that involves our Congress. I don’t see how else we can get a handle on these issues before the issues have us in the frying pan.
Those are my thoughts, I always welcome yours.
Thanks for the read,
Provocative Enlightenment Radio
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusion