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“The first step in the evolution of ethics is solidarity with other human beings"
                                     Albert Schweitzer



 “Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.”

                                                                                Thomas Jefferson

The emerging technologies of the future will redefine our understanding of biology and the material world as well as democracy and the nature of work.  But no good comes without risk.  Every new technology can result in a variety of outcomes: some good, some bad, some unintended.

Finding the best solution requires the expertise of a variety of stakeholders: from the leaders of technology companies trying to innovate while turning a profit; to regulators whose goal is to protect the public interest; to ethicists who must judiciously weigh the risks and benefits.

Not since the dawn of the atomic age has a single issue presented us with so many questions as the rise of artificial intelligence.  While we understand the benefits, the potential dangers remain speculative and open to argument.  The most salient points of discussion include:

  • Whether or not the widespread implementation of artificial intelligence will result in the permanent loss of jobs for a significant portion of the population?

  • How will we address permanent unemployment and a two-tiered society?

  • How should we distribute wealth so as to prevent a further widening of the economic divide?

  • How will humans interact with machines that approximate our humanity?

  • How can we guard against machines becoming too powerful?

  • How can we guard against human bias infecting machines?

  • What will it mean to be human when artificial intelligence and genetic engineering combine?


The ethical principle inherent in evolution – and today applied to 21st century economics -- is that only the best has a right to survive. But what do we mean by best?  When judged in terms of efficiency, machines will always win.  But there is more to society, to democracy, more to being human than just efficiency. 


To think otherwise is to greatly diminish our lives and our future.

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