Monday, November 30, 2020

Whom does the change serve?

In my writings on technology ethics, riffing on the fact that so many cool technologies are presented as the Holy Grail of something or other, I have frequently invoked the mediaeval question that Parsifal failed to ask: Whom does the Grail Serve?

The same question can be asked of other changes and transformations, where technology might be part of the story but is not the primary story.


In response to Francis Fukuyama's statement on Big Tech's information monopoly

Almost every abuse these platforms are accused of perpetrating can be simultaneously defended as economically efficient

@mireillemoret argues

Efficiency is important, but it is NOT the holy grail


Important for whom? When I get involved in economic discussions of efficiency or productivity or whatever, I always try to remember the ethical dimension - efficiency for whom, productivity for whom, predictability and risk reduction for whom, innovation for whom.

Note: I just started reading Adrian Daub's new book, but I haven't got to the Disruption chapter yet.

Chris Bruce, Environmental Decision-Making as Central Planning: FOR WHOM is Production to Occur? (Environmental Economics Blog, 19 August 2005)

Adrian Daub, What tech calls thinking (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2020) 

Adrian Daub, The disruption con: why big tech’s favourite buzzword is nonsense (The Guardian, 24 September 2020)

Francis Fukuyama, Barak Richman, and Ashish Goel, How to Save Democracy From Technology - Ending Big Tech’s Information Monopoly (Foreign Affairs, January/February 2021) 

Further posts

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