Books  |    |  September 25, 2018

Future Ethics

Book by Cennydd Bowles.
Published by NowNext Press.
230 pages.

Technology was never neutral; its social, political, and moral impacts have become painfully clear. But the stakes will only get higher as connected cameras will watch over the city, algorithms oversee society’s most critical decisions, and transport, jobs, and even war will become automated. The tech industry hasn’t yet earned the trust these technologies demand.

Based on Cennydd’s years of research and consulting, Future Ethics transforms modern ethical theory into practical advice for designers, product managers, and software engineers alike. Cennydd uses the three lenses of modern ethics to focus on some of the tech industry’s biggest challenges: unintended consequences and algorithmic bias, the troubling power of persuasive technology, and the dystopias of surveillance, autonomous war, and a post-work future.

Future Ethics is an intelligent, quietly provocative book that challenges technologists to stand up for change, and teaches essential ethical principles and methods for building a fairer future.

Table of Contents

Trouble in Paradise

  • Instrumentalism, determinism, and mediation
  • Morals or ethics?
  • The myth of neutrality
  • Barriers to ethics

Do No Harm?

  • Unintended consequences
  • Externalities
  • Algorithmic bias
  • Source of bias
  • Moral distribution
  • Moral relativism
  • The technocracy trap
  • Defining fairness
  • Mitigating bias
  • Moral imagination
  • Futuring
  • Design as provocation
  • Utopias and dystopias
  • User dissent and crisis
  • Redefining the stakeholder
  • A Hippocratic Oath?
  • Ethical infrastructure and diversity

Persuasive Mechanisms

  • Dark patterns
  • Attention and addiction
  • Ethical experimentation
  • Persuasion and power
  • Political persuasion
  • Automated persuasion
  • Evidence collapse
  • Justifying persuasion: folk theories
  • Persuasive theories
  • The role of intent
  • Introducing deontology
  • Deontology applied
  • The veil of ignorance
  • Better persuasion
  • Regulation and opt-out.

The Data Deluge

  • Raw data is an oxymoron
  • Resigned to insecurity
  • The value exchange in practice
  • Redefining public and private
  • Deidentification and reidentification
  • Seamlessness and trust
  • Data regulation
  • Introducing utilitarianism
  • Scientific morality
  • Utilitarianism or deontology?
  • A fairer data exchange
  • Self-ownership and pocket AI
  • Portability and differential privacy
  • The nuclear no-data option
  • Privacy as strategy
  • Empowering the public

Seeing Through New Eyes

  • Computer vision
  • Listening machines
  • Talking with machines
  • The datafied body
  • The hypermap
  • Neo-physiognomy
  • ‘If I don’t, someone else will’
  • The deadly seams
  • Is ‘better’ good enough?
  • The trolley problem is a red herring
  • Coexistence and companion species
  • Umwelt
  • The social contract
  • Explainable algorithms
  • Counterfactuals
  • Virtue ethics
  • Value-sensitive design

You Have Twenty Seconds To Comply

  • Moderation and free speech
  • What’s yours is ours
  • Security or liberty?
  • The ethics of encryption
  • Repurposeable surveillance
  • The party line
  • Post-privacy
  • Autonomous war
  • Moral disobedience
  • The price of disobedience

Software Is Heating The World

  • Minimum viable icecaps
  • The digital drain
  • Gestell
  • Conservation for technologists
  • Anticipating scarcity
  • Radical reorientation
  • Akrasia and ethical imperfection

No Cash, No Jobs, No Hope?

  • Is it different this time?
  • The future of work
  • Countering inequality
  • Ethics or politics?
  • The ethics of capitalism
  • Searching for meaning
  • Complex consciousness
  • Personhood
  • The dangers of anthropomorphism
  • How should we treat machines?
  • How should machines treat us?
  • Superintelligence and doomsdays

A New Tech Philosophy

  • Beware the business case
  • Facilitation, not judgment
  • Other ethical dead ends
  • Ethics in leadership
  • Time for specialists?
  • Being the change

About the Author

Cennydd Bowles is a London-based designer and writer with fifteen years of experience and clients including Twitter, Ford, Cisco, and the BBC. His focus today is the ethics of emerging technology. He has lectured on the topic at Carnegie Mellon University, Google, and New York’s School of Visual Arts, and is a sought-after speaker at technology and design events worldwide