Automation, machine learning, and technology have evolved at a breakneck pace and shows no signs of slowing down. Driverless cars roam the streets, Siri and Alexa keep us organized and Facebook continues to supply our data to anyone who’s interested. The digital oligarchs missed a large opportunity to stop our technology from being weaponized during the 2016 US election. Attention needs to be paid now.
Technology has given us wonderful everyday conveniences like texting and GPS, but it’s also proven itself to be Pandora’s box. Along with the fun innovations come the baked-in bias, cars getting hacked while on the highway, and global issues like extreme wealth inequality. The good news is that we are not in uncharted waters, the only new variable is the technology itself. In feudal times when land was the most valuable resource available to people, we developed structures and regulations to make sense of it. We subsequently developed property tax, ownership rights and rules — now the same structures must be developed for technology. Applying transparent, fair structures will improve everyone’s experience on the internet and with technology. Imagine knowing who has access to your data and what they’re doing with it!
At the dawn of the internet, we had no clue what we’d be facing with today’s super technology. The landscape has changed so much, we desperately need regulations to address the ethical minefields surrounding these issues. Collectively we need to decide on a code of ethics that’s transparent and inclusive; Wikipedia is proof that the idea is possible on a large scale. Wikipedia has oversight mechanisms to ensure accuracy, administrators, good behavior incentives and more. This model is an example of how the tech industry can realistically establish ethical guidelines and safeguard technology for everyone.