Googling Ethics

An interesting if short article on the in-house philosopher at Google.

His point about the necessity of the creators and innovators of technology needing to think about ethical implications is crucial.  And as someone with some familiarity with that world, I can vouch for the fact that ethics and the importance of responsibility in development is something that is lost on many current and future programmers, developers, and other technology types.  Not all of them, but many.
The anecdote related in the article is fairly typical in our postmodern culture.  People assume automatically that they are able to formulate good, systematic (thought through) decisions to guide their actions.  But many of them lack any moral framework for this.  What results are ethics based largely on emotional responses and feelings.  Because emotional responses and feelings can vary from situation to situation or day to day or hour to hour, this leads to a potentially dangerous lack of consistency backed by the insistence that the individual is the final arbiter of what is right.  Getting people to do something becomes a simple matter of manipulating emotions and feelings.  
And here I’ll make another shameless plug for one of my all-time favorite books.  An unlikely selection, A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic history lesson.  Walter M. Miller Jr. revisits the major eras of human history, but in a world attempting to recover from the self-destructive powers it once possessed.  The book is very enjoyable simply as a sci-fi genre read.  But it’s also fascinating theologically and philosophically.  The story takes place in a monastery in the Utah desert over the span of 1800+ years.  At the crux of the story is the idea that man’s willingness and ability (or inability) to demonstrate self-control in pursuing what he is capable of is the ultimate determinant of whether he will destroy himself.  Are we willing to accept a more humble role in the created order, or will our insistence on being at the pinnacle of an uncreated universe doom us to self-destruction?  
Definitely worth the time if you like fiction that prompts thinking.  Something that Googlers and the rest of us probably could use a little more of.  

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