A dangerous master : how to keep technology from slipping by Wendell Wallach

By Wendell Wallach

We are living in an age of remarkable technological capability. From nanotechnology to man made organisms, new applied sciences stand to revolutionize entire domain names of human event. yet with remarkable capability comes extraordinary probability: drones can bring a bomb as conveniently as they could a brand new cellphone; makers and hackers can 3D-print weapons in addition to instruments; and supercomputers can short-circuit Wall highway simply as simply as they can Read more...

summary: we are living in an age of extraordinary technological strength. From nanotechnology to man made organisms, new applied sciences stand to revolutionize entire domain names of human adventure. yet with extraordinary strength comes impressive chance: drones can bring a bomb as without problems as they could a brand new telephone; makers and hackers can 3D-print weapons in addition to instruments; and supercomputers can short-circuit Wall highway simply as simply as they could deal with your portfolio.One factor those applied sciences cannot do is resolution the profound ethical concerns they increase. Who will be held responsible once they get it wrong? What accountability do

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Everyone approaches the societal impact of the emerging technologies from a piecemeal perspective. Academics tend to be trapped in the silo of their own discipline. Policy-makers are heavily influenced by political and economic considerations, especially the desire to avoid blame if something goes wrong. Proponents for and critics of emerging technologies commonly approach controversies through the lens of one big defining idea. There is serious need for a more comprehensive and interdisciplinary conversation regarding the trajectory, impact, and management of the emerging technologies.

An enraged teenager will kill her father with a plastic gun produced on a $275 3D printer. In his home laboratory, a psychopath or terrorist will brew a designer pathogen capable of starting a worldwide flu pandemic. Autonomous weapon systems will kill civilians, and may even start new wars. An island nation, threatened by rising tides, will engineer local climate and cause a drought in neighboring regions. In our 2009 book, Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong, my co-author Colin Allen and I made a similar prediction about a catastrophic event caused by a computer system taking actions independent of direct human oversight.

Those risks can be very large, for example, a worldwide pandemic that kills millions, or an economic disruption that topples governments. Most risks are relatively small, such as a malfunctioning device that harms individuals, one by one. However, a significant number of innovations are expected to have a broad societal impact. Many will be beneficial, the impact of some will be controversial, and others will be damaging. A single technology can even be beneficial, controversial, and damaging at the same time.

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