Ethics of technology is suddenly a rather hot topic, and, as most of you reading this know, I’m a bit ambivalent about the development. Consider, for example, the attention garnered by Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress last week. The whole affair was widely anticipated, watched, and commented upon. Yet, it is likely that all of this attention will not ultimately amount to much of consequence. It was a blip on most people’s radar, and, even for those who cared, the moment has passed and the urgency of the immediate will direct our attention fleetingly elsewhere.
This is not to say that we ought to be fatalistic or despairing. It only means that thinking about technology’s moral and political implications, not to mention taking meaningful action based on that thinking, is not exactly an easy or straightforward affair. The roots of the problems we face often run much deeper than most of us, myself included, realize. And, if I may be permitted to stretch the metaphor a bit, when we do start to get at those roots, we discover a vast network of roots that extend farther and wider and feed more of our culture than we imagined.
Over the past few years, I’ve been attempting to do a little work in the direction of helping us see more clearly how the technological touches on, shapes, and otherwise relates to the moral and the political. Most of this work, persisting in my metaphor, I tend to think of as a modest bit of ground clearing that exposes the roots and at least helps us to see our situation a little more clearly.
Given the current interest in such matter, I’ve decided to collect into an eBook some of what I’ve written over the years, going back to 2011, that touches on the intersections of technology, ethics, and politics. It is a rather slim volume of about 70 pages or so were it printed. You can pick it up at Amazon should you so desire: Do Artifacts Have Ethics?: Technology, Politics, and the Moral Life. I think it can be a useful collection of pieces that will at least spur some important questions.
If you were to pass along the link or take a moment to write a review, I would be grateful.
[Update: Some of you inquired about alternatives to buying through Amazon. Below is one option via PayPal. For those who would like to understandably avoid both Amazon and PayPal, you may purchase a copy via Gumroad.]
Do Artifacts Have Ethics?: Technology, Politics, and the Moral Life