Something Digital Warmup #2: Dissecting Digital Dilemmas

Because we can, should we?

The proliferation and advancement of digital technologies means that we often find ourselves operating in the grey, questioning the ethical moral and legal implications of our actions.

Actions which aren’t simply felt by us. But by our colleagues, clients, communities, families, friends, neighbours, facebook fans and well, as we witnessed in yesterday’s Something Digital discussion, the whole global population.

With a choice of five contentious topics, the Something Digital audience picked three areas to be debated by our incredible panel, who then proceeded to vote upon key statements questioning whether we should…

It was fast, furious, engaging and at most times a tad uncomfortable. The conversation jumped from the potential creation of bias by not sharing our online data with government; to our responsibility as adults towards our children’s future memories and the question of humans make great pets by creating their masters (robots) – amongst other salient points.

The crux is that ethical dilemmas have gone back as far as humans remember. However they are now compounded by our digital environment. And whilst we dove into complex systems like AI & Machine Learning black boxes, the surveillance economy and deep fakes, the conversations kept going back to humanity.

How when the legal systems protecting data and technology, actually impedes a search for a missing person. How children need to learn to navigate the complexities of a digital world to succeed in it. How your decision to not share your data could impact your neighbour’s ability to access better services. How we need teams of historians, philosophers, artists, and technologies to help us navigate the grey.

The data that came out of the discussion created more questions too.

When asked whether we should push the limits on artificial intelligence, 79% said yes. But when asked whether we should share information on minors online, the yes camp was only at 35%. A third of the room also wanted more information on how data is being used by government before committing to sharing.

The goal was to challenge thinking, push boundaries and generate questions rather than provide answers. With 120 people in the room, 80 minutes to tackle three tough questions and an audience rearing to voice their opinions, one thing is clear. This will be an annual discussion!

Is Start Trek, the Next Generation our utopia? Contentment and happiness our goal? Or should we simply enjoy playing outside in the sun, with our iPads – learn the cultural lessons and be where you are (in digital or analogue).

Thank you to Cat Matson, Rebecca Levingston, S.Kate Devitt and Peter Laurie for answering some very tough questions and being willing to jump into the grey with us!

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If you would like to be a part of more incredible conversations like this one, we invite you to join us for the main Something Digital conference this October. Full details including speakers, program and everything else can be found here.

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