23 July 2012

Ethical decision-making apps damage our ability to make moral choices

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A recent crush of smartphone and tablet apps claim to make hard decisions easier, and the range of ethical dilemmas they can weigh in on will only increase. At this rate, Siri 5.0 may be less a personal assistant than an always-available guide to moral behavior. But depending on a digital Jiminy Cricket may be a regressive step away from what makes us all real, write Evan Selinger and Thomas Seager in Slate Magazine.

“Michael Schrage, research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, gives us a glimpse into what the next generation of apps might do. While discussing potential developments in “promptware” platforms that cue ideal behavior (for instance, sense that we’re exhausted and recommend we should pause before making an important call), he notes that an app in the works will enable users to determine whether they speak too much in critical situations (like business meetings) and make real-time corrections to improve their performance. He speculates large-scale adoption might do more than change personal behavior. It could transform ethical norms—the very fabric of what members of a society expect from one anothe”

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