Panel Discusses Ethical Tech Through Innovation at the Vatican – Humanity 2.0

Contributed by: Show Editorial Team

Panel discusses the importance of innovation for good

Humanity 2.0 Emerging Tech for Good Panel was delivered by Matthew Sanders, Frank Ricotta, Eddie Lee, Nicholas Haan, Matthew Loughran, Robert Grant, Maria Rosario Taddeo, and Prof. Ali Hajimiri at Humanity 2.0 (Vatican City)


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With plots about machines physically overtaking humans, science fiction can stoke fears of artificial intelligence. Such concerns are hogwash, not worth your time, according to Mariarosaria Taddeo, Deputy Director of the Digital Ethics Lab at the University of Oxford. The real worry about AI, she said, is much scarier. 

“AI has this great potential to free our time from tedious tasks…and that time can be dedicated to human flourishing,” she said. But, “AI can enable human wrongdoing. It can enable our biases, our prejudices, our superficialities. It makes it much easier to be an evil person. And this is the risk I see. Without the right guardrails, AI can facilitate us going onto the wrong path.”

This is why the Emerging Tech for Good Panel discussion at the 2019 Humanity 2.0 forum at the Vatican was so essential. The conversation, filmed live by the Traders Network Show, hosted by Matt Bird, represents the kind of dialogue needed to ensure that technology develops in such a way that it will help human beings, rather than harm them. 

The conversation featured Matthew Sanders, CEO/Co-Founder of Humanity 2.0; Matthew Loughran, CMO of Uulala; Eddie Lee, President of Pledgecamp; Frank Ricotta, CEO/Co-Founder of BurstIQ; Nicholas Haan, VP of Impact at Singularity University; and Ali Hajimiri, Fellow at IEEE. 

The panelists agreed that humanity must be at the center of all innovation. Otherwise, those fears about machines destroying our lives become possible—and the demise could be much uglier than many science fiction plots even imagine. 

Taddeo pointed out that all technology has the ability to be used for good or bad. (Grant noted how the splitting of the atom enabled the creation of the nuclear bomb.) Therefore, ethical thinking has to be at the center of all innovation. But what exactly is ethical thinking? 

Taddeo says ethics is about balancing tradeoffs. For instance, sacrificing privacy can be a good thing if it enhances research. And, she said, ethics should be used as a way to promote opportunities, not prevent them. If humanity has the ability to cure cancer but chooses not to develop the technology, it’d be pretty hard to rationalize, Taddeo said. 

“Ethics is not the mom who slaps you on your wrist when you take the candy from the jar. Ethics is there to tell us what we absolutely should be doing, especially with these technologies. It’s about what opportunities we should not be missing,” Taddeo said. 

That hardly means giving free rein to companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. But finding the right line can be difficult. Transparency is central to this balance. On the one hand, openness seems like it should always be prized, but on the other hand, too much openness can impede progress.  

Loughran specializes in financial services for underserved parts of the world using blockchain technology—a worthy cause. He argued that when broadening his reach, the technology underwriting his services shouldn’t matter to users. 

“It’s like the internet. You just turn on your phone, and it works. You don’t care what’s behind it. That’s the mentality. You have to make it simple for the end user,” Loughran said.

But Taddeo cautioned against this, saying people were not fully aware of how the internet worked—trading their data for free services—and now the issue of big data is one of the most fervent ethical debates of our time. 

Going forward we can’t be so crass, panelists like Grant argued. We must develop technology without losing sight of how that technology will impact humanity. He said we should always consider the greater good. For instance, vaccines have been developed to eradicate all kinds of diseases. Yet people resist vaccines because of worries over individual risk. This is the kind of thinking that causes ethical concerns amid emerging technology. Not only do people make decisions about using technology based on how it will affect them, but companies often develop technology based on how it will impact their bottom lines, not the world, the panel discussed.  

“In the questions of ethics, what people will justify is what they believe will benefit them,” Grant said. “It took me a long time realize this.”

Put that way, innovation could seem pretty ominous. But Hajimiri is more sanguine. 

“I prefer to be upbeat about the value of human thinking and ingenuity, so long as value in terms of moral value are built in. Whether it is nuclear power or future free energy or blockchain, it needs to factor in the element of tolerance, and social value, and human value,” Hajimiri said. In a word, technological innovation needs to consider “love.”

We can’t develop technology that allows us to exploit each other or benefit from harming one another, he said. “Love is what binds us together.” 

(Written by Andrew Waite; Editing and revisions by Nicole Liddy)

PR and Media By: CommPro Worldwide

Links: Original Article

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