The Ethical Technologist is an exploration of what it is to be a change agent during this most dynamic period of human history. Hundreds, even thousands of years in the future, the technological advances of the late 20th and 21st Centuries will be recognised in history as a pivotal point in human evolution.Technologists today have the power to do what humans have never before been able to do. But with great power must come responsibility if we are to avoid trouble. Technologists working today are busy creating the future of humanity. We need full awareness of the impact of what we are doing if we are going to create the best future we can.While technology is merely a tool, this book makes the case that the best kind of technology is that which helps people come to a fuller expression of their humanity, their human potential, to help a person become self-actualized. On the other hand, the worst kind of technology dehumanises people, reduces them to a component in a machine, a mere unit of production.Ethical conduct in technology development comes down to a simple, two-part proposition; people must be told what the consequences of using a technology will be and give their informed consent, and secondly, that they must not be harmed by using it.At a personal level, an ethical person has integrity; they are the same person regardless of who they are with, they do not adjust their morals to gain the approval of the people they are currently with.An ethical person is autonomous in the sense that they are the embodiment of right action. They do not need to look outside of themselves to know how to behave. The knowledge is already there inside them. This can only come from careful introspection; this book shows you how.It comes down to being fully aware of what you are thinking and doing every moment, and consciously making choices that will produce beneficial outcomes for yourself and those affected by your actions.There are many reasons why humans have been so successful as a species; our tool-making, our team-work, our creative imaginations, our endless search for better ways of doing things, our omnivory (we can eat almost anything), our communication, our adaptability in different environments, and this is not the full list. But it is our tools of ever-increasing power and utility that have lifted us beyond the capabilities of our fellow primates. There is no doubt we are excellent tool-makers, and our information technology is perhaps our finest tool-set.More than just inanimate objects, information technology is an extension of our body and mind. It lets us extend our ability to think and process information well beyond our biological brain, out into the environment. Today, our individual minds have extended out to form a pool of collective cognition that we call the Internet. Only a few generations ago, this would have been unimaginable to most people.
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December 29, 2011
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