Ethical Standards for new emerging tech?

This general “challenge” I’m submitting is admittedly very broad and nebulous, but I’ve noticed that issues related to ethical considerations are coming up in many of the ideas and technologies discussed throughout our subdomain conversations (for example, the Universal Assembler, Less-lethal Law Enforcement, Cost Shifting, and Wider participation in space discussions, among others…).

What are the challenges in establishing a set of ethical standards, principles, or practices for key areas of new emerging technologies? In your opinion, how much of an impact would an established, widely agreed-upon set of standards have on shaping the future advancement of these technologies? What ideals or standards for tech currently exist or are applied in the domains we are focusing on here (climate, health, space, energy, food)? Who are the entities making the decisions, or rather, who should they be?

These are a lot of questions but just wanted to open up this space for a larger multifaceted discussion and have a potential repository of resources from our highly knowledgeable community of experts.


@bnoy, @farahelsiss, @bjcooper, @JoseCordeiro, @techspeaker, and @ymedan, I’d love to read your thoughts on this!

First, do no harm!
If in doubt, don’t do!

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Thank you @ymedan-- perhaps I was overthinking it!

Everyone - please vote for this challenge (find the vote button in the upper-left, next to the discussion title) if you think this is a challenge XPRIZE can and should focus on!

@ymedan -

I like your definition of the issue. It reminds me of something I once told C-level executives of a major pharma company:

“If you want to preserve public trust, it’s not enough for you to follow the ethical standards and regulations. You need to think of the patient as if they were your mother, and then consider your advice to them.”

I hope they listened.

Hi @supratik12 - As your research interests lie in the areas of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, what are your thoughts on the challenges in establishing a set of ethical standards, principles, or practices for key areas of new emerging technologies?

This is an interesting topic and I’m curious if this group has some feedback on a general ethical framework that could act as a starting point?

One framework that comes to mind is the 'Consequentialist Framework:
In the Consequentialist framework, we focus on the future effects of the possible courses of action, considering the people who will be directly or indirectly affected. We ask about what outcomes are desirable in a given situation, and consider ethical conduct to be whatever will achieve the best consequences. The person using the Consequences framework desires to produce the most good.

Is there another potential example and/or what would you add to the above?