Digital Ethics is fast becoming the latest victim of what I call thingification — the tendency to turn a good idea into a thing that gets oversold, underdelivered and becomes a displacement activity that distracts us from the need for real change. But I think it is important that we hold onto the idea that technology amplifies our human characteristics, both good and bad, and literally hard wires them into the tools that increasingly shape our world.
We need to be aware of the moral and ethical consequences of this. Just because we can do amazing things with our new tools doesn’t mean that they all necessarily make the world a better place. We can use them for good or ill. What worries me at the moment that who gets to determine what good or ill means is too often a frighteningly small group of people. This is not their fault. It is as much the fault of the rest of the world who still too often stand back and say “I don’t do technology”.
This is true within organisations too. I watch IT departments making decisions that will have a massive impact on the interactions and ultimately culture within their organisations, while groups like HR, Comms, and even line management adopt a victim mentality and go along with the changes as if they were somehow inevitable.
These groups need to educate and inform themselves enough about technology to fight back, to put a brake on the rampant march of the digitisation of everything. Not to hold back the future but to take ownership of it, to make sure that it works for all of the varied interests and priorities of the organisation. To increase the chances of it turning out well in the end!