Tag: ethics (page 1 of 4)

Morality, responsibility, and (online) information

This is a useful article in terms of thinking about the problems we have around misinformation online. Yes, we have a responsibility to be informed citizens, but there are structural issues which are actively working against that.

How might we alleviate our society’s misinformation problem? One suggestion goes as follows: the problem is that people are so ignorant, poorly informed, gullible, irrational that they lack the ability to discern credible information and real expertise from incredible information and fake expertise.


This view places the primary responsibility for our current informational predicament – and the responsibility to mend it – on individuals. It views them as somehow cognitively deficient. An attractive aspect of this view is that it suggests a solution (people need to become smarter) directly where the problem seems to lie (people are not smart). Simply, if we want to stop the spread of misinformation, people need to take responsibility to think better and learn how to stop spreading it. A closer philosophical and social scientific look at issues of responsibility with regard to information suggests that this view is mistaken on several accounts.


Even if there was a mass willingness to accept accountability, or if a responsibility could be articulated without blaming citizens, there is no guarantee that citizens would be successful in actually practising their responsibility to be informed. As I said, even the best intentions are often manipulated. Critical thinking, rationality and identifying the correct experts are extremely difficult things to practise effectively on their own, much less in warped information environments. This is not to say that people’s intentions are universally good, but that even sincere, well-meaning efforts do not necessarily have desirable outcomes. This speaks against proposing a greater individual responsibility for misinformation, because, if even the best intentions can be corrupted, then there isn’t a great chance of success.


Leaning away from individual responsibility means that the burden should be shifted to those who have structural control over our information environments. Solutions to our misinformation epidemic are effective when they are structural and address the problem at its roots. In the case of online misinformation, we should understand that technology giants aim at creating profit over creating public democratic goods. If disinformation can be made to be profitable, we should not expect those who profit to self-regulate and adopt a responsibility toward information by default. Placing accountability and responsibility on technology companies but also on government, regulatory bodies, traditional media and political parties by democratic means is a good first step to foster information environments that encourage good knowledge practices. This step provides a realistic distribution of both causal and effective remedial responsibility for our misinformation problem without nihilistically throwing out the entire concept of responsibility – which we should never do.

Source: On the moral responsibility to be an informed citizen | Psyche Ideas

Most don’t talk or act according to who they are, but as they are obliged to

NASA image of stars

The World’s Oldest Story? Astronomers Say Global Myths About ‘Seven Sisters’ Stars May Reach Back 100,000 Years — “Why are the Australian Aboriginal stories so similar to the Greek ones? Anthropologists used to think Europeans might have brought the Greek story to Australia, where it was adapted by Aboriginal people for their own purposes. But the Aboriginal stories seem to be much, much older than European contact. And there was little contact between most Australian Aboriginal cultures and the rest of the world for at least 50,000 years. So why do they share the same stories?”

🚶‍♂️ The joy of steps: 20 ways to give purpose to your daily walk — “We need to gallivant around outside in daylight so that our circadian rhythms can regulate sleep and alertness. (Yes, even when the sky is resolutely leaden, it is still technically daylight.) Walking warms you up, too; when you get back indoors, it will feel positively tropical.”

🔐 How Law Enforcement Gets Around Your Smartphone’s Encryption — “Cryptographers at Johns Hopkins University used publicly available documentation from Apple and Google as well as their own analysis to assess the robustness of Android and iOS encryption. They also studied more than a decade’s worth of reports about which of these mobile security features law enforcement and criminals have previously bypassed, or can currently, using special hacking tools.”

🚫 Misinformation dropped dramatically the week after Twitter banned Trump and some allies — “The findings, from Jan. 9 through Friday, highlight how falsehoods flow across social media sites — reinforcing and amplifying each other — and offer an early indication of how concerted actions against misinformation can make a difference.”

😲 The Ethics of Emotion in AI Systems (Research Summary) — “There will always be a gap between the emotions modelled and the experience of EAI systems. Addressing this gap also implies recognizing the implicit norms and values integrated into these systems in ways that cannot always be foreseen by the original designers. With EAI, it is not just a matter of deciding between the right emotional models and proxy variables, but what the responses collected signify in terms of human beings’ inner feelings, judgments, and future actions.”

Quotation-as-title by Baltasar Gracián. Image from top-linked post.

Ethical living

Mural which reads "You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in"

/via LinkedIn