Modern Tech Ethics | Future Ethics

Updated: Mar 21


GUEST: Cennydd Bowles (@Cennydd), a designer and futurist with nearly two decades of experience advising companies including Twitter, Samsung, Accenture, and the BBC. He is the author of Future Ethics – ‘a must read for anyone who is inventing the future’ – and now runs responsible design and futures studio NowNext.

THEME: Need to widen stakeholders and take a longer view of the future when designing tech. Doing so is worth the effort because it mitigates risk, sparks innovation, and minimizes the externalities of only focusing on users.

BIG IDEA: 4 questions to help decide how to make the “right” decision:

  1. Am I treating people as ends or as means?

  2. What if everyone did what I’m about to do?

  3. Am I maximizing good / minimizing harm for the greatest number of people?

  4. Would I still do this if all my family & friends knew about this? If this were the headline of tomorrow’s news?

FAVORITE QUOTE: "I try to not criticize any individual for the decisions they’ve come to IF they’ve considered them properly. […] Blanket prohibitions like ‘It’s unethical to work for Uber or Facebook’ is the opposite of ethics. That’s shutting down conversation. The point is that we have proper discussions about how to base claims and evaluate what’s good and bad. That’s what ethics is about." EXTRA: The hangman in the artwork is a nod at Jeff Veen's illustration of the prototypical tech business model. See reprinting below, which comes from Future Ethics



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