Episode #45 – Vallor on Virtue Ethics and Technology

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In this episode I talk to Shannon Vallor. Shannon is the Regis and Diane McKenna Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Santa Clara University, where her research addresses the ethical implications of emerging science and technology, especially AI, robotics and new media. Professor Vallor received the 2015 World Technology Award in Ethics from the World Technology Network. She has served as President of the Society for Philosophy and Technology, sits on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, and is a member of the IEEE Standards Association’s Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems. We talk about the problem of techno-social opacity and the value of virtue ethics in an era of rapid technological change.

You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher (the RSS feed is here).

Show Notes

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 1:39 – How students encouraged Shannon to write Technology and the Virtues
  • 6:30 – The problem of acute techno-moral opacity
  • 12:34 – Is this just the problem of morality in a time of accelerating change?
  • 17:16 – Why can’t we use abstract moral principles to guide us in a time of rapid technological change? What’s wrong with utilitarianism or Kantianism?
  • 23:40 – Making the case for technologically-sensitive virtue ethics
  • 27:27 – The analogy with education: teaching critical thinking skills vs providing students with information
  • 31:19 – Aren’t most virtue ethical traditions too antiquated? Aren’t they rooted in outdated historical contexts?
  • 37:54 – Doesn’t virtue ethics assume a relatively fixed human nature? What if human nature is one of the things that is changed by technology?
  • 42:34 – Case study on Social Media: Defending Mark Zuckerberg
  • 46:54 – The Dark Side of Social Media
  • 52:48 – Are we trapped in an immoral equilibrium? How can we escape?
  • 57:17 – What would the virtuous person do right now? Would he/she delete Facebook?
  • 1:00:23 – Can we use technological to solve problems created by technology? Will this help to cultivate the virtues?
  • 1:05:00 – The virtue of self-regard and the problem of narcissism in a digital age

Relevant Links

 

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