We can only hope that 2019 will be the year when the ethics of emerging technologies becomes a central part of discussions on innovation and progress.
Below, I’ve asked some prolific tech ethicists about their hopes for the upcoming year and to share with readers what they would like to see people and policy bodies pay more attention to before the opportunity passes us by.
Their answers cover a wide range of topics from AI to the Arctic.
Here’s what they had to say:
David Ryan Polgar, Tech ethicist and Founder of All Tech Is Human; Co-host of Funny as Tech
“Digital phenotyping will be a hotly debated ethical issue in 2019. Digital phenotyping is the emerging field of examining how people utilize smartphones and other digital devices (motor skills with scrolling, time of use, the volume of communication) to make correlative predictions regarding depression, suicidality, Alzheimer’s, and more. It’s what I like to call the canary in the smartphone. But what are the trade-offs and risks of distressing users with false assumptions?
This topic will be important in 2019 because suicide rates have risen 30 percent since 1999 and we are naturally looking at our ubiquitous smartphones to provide early warning signs. There are major issues, however, to work out around data privacy (especially for teen users), free will, and whether we can accurately decipher the signal from the noise through smartphone usage.”