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Ethics and the Promise of Open Source

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Open Source is based on moral principles that the tech industry can benefit from adopting. It all starts with putting "ought" before "can".

Published in: Technology

Ethics and the Promise of Open Source

  1. 1. CAN OPEN SOURCE SAVE US? (from ourselves) Presented at #MSOSSDAY Toronto, May 7th, 2016
  2. 2. !@MOR10
  3. 3. Does ‘ought’ imply ‘can’?
  4. 4. “if the moral law commands that we ought to be better human beings now, it inescapably follows that we must be capable of being better human beings.” Immanuel Kant
  5. 5. What happens when people are asked to make moral choices?
  6. 6. Kant’s Categorical Imperative: “Act only according to what maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” Deontological Ethics
  7. 7. The tech world needs a lesson in classic moral theory.
  8. 8. Does ‘ought’ imply ‘can’?
  9. 9. In the tech industry, ’can’ typically means ‘ought’
  10. 10. We can, but ought we? Self-driving cars Exhibit One:
  11. 11. The Trolley Problem
  12. 12. What happens when moral judgements are left to a car?
  13. 13. Self-driving cars will reduce accidents. Who decides we are willing to pay the price?
  14. 14. Boston Globe https://goo.gl/ncn6YJ
  15. 15. 680 News http://goo.gl/wIlMJw
  16. 16. The Wall Street Journal http://goo.gl/iLJBv2
  17. 17. Would we have self-driving cars if we started by asking whether we ought to have them?
  18. 18. We can, but ought we? Internet of Things Exhibit Two:
  19. 19. The Internet of Everything Business Insider http://goo.gl/bT9uT2
  20. 20. The Week http://goo.gl/jUXCW9 “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.” Samsung SmartTV Privacy Policy
  21. 21. The Guardian http://goo.gl/U6TA7F “In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials.” James Clapper Director of National Intelligence
  22. 22. Edward Snowden https://goo.gl/ovU2dG
  23. 23. The Internet of Things will simplify our lives. Who decides we are willing to pay the price?
  24. 24. Beware Online “Filter Bubbles” TED2011 https://goo.gl/lTxquh
  25. 25. When the devices that surround us have different priorities from ours we end up with results that benefit the devices or their creators over our own best interests.
  26. 26. Would we have IoT if we started by asking whether we ought to have them?
  27. 27. We can, but ought we? Virtual Reality Exhibit Three:
  28. 28. Using technology to replace reality with an ideal world. What could go wrong?
  29. 29. My 90 year old grandmother tries the Oculus Rift. https://goo.gl/i5nrqy
  30. 30. The Internet of Things is augmenting our perception of reality.
  31. 31. Virtual Reality will make life more interesting. Who decides we are willing to pay the price?
  32. 32. Reward system / Hedonistic hotspot https://goo.gl/NH1Thk
  33. 33. at7addak http://goo.gl/HaQeNc
  34. 34. Oculus Mall Prank https://youtu.be/ Odax7F3tWhM?t=1m25s
  35. 35. Would we have Virtual Reality if we started by asking whether we ought to have it?
  36. 36. Robot Fails https://goo.gl/Ari42W
  37. 37. Industry puts ‘can’ before ‘ought’ because they put profit before people.
  38. 38. In Open Source, people come first, and so can ‘ought’.
  39. 39. What happens when people are asked to make moral choices?
  40. 40. They make informed moral choices!
  41. 41. Because we can! Ethics + Open Source The Revolution:
  42. 42. How do we know if our actions and their consequences are good or bad?
  43. 43. From the Greek ethos, meaning “character” or “custom”. : rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad ethics
  44. 44. From the Latin mores, meaning “customs”. : concerning or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior morals
  45. 45. ethics ≈ morals
  46. 46. Open Source is built on a foundation of moral principles.
  47. 47. Virtue: The attainment of perfection, the complete realization of one’s potential, in Greek, arete. Virtue Ethics
  48. 48. To be virtuous, you must act as a person who has virtue. Yes, this is absurdly circular. Virtue Ethics
  49. 49. “To ensure people can continue to express themselves freely and safely on Twitter, we must provide more tools and policies. (…) It requires a multi-layered approach where each of our 320 million users has a part to play, as do the community of experts working for safety and free expression.” 😧 https://goo.gl/HusmFf
  50. 50. “For beings that can think and learn, sharing useful knowledge is a fundamental act of friendship. (…) Friends share with each other. Friends help each other. This is the nature of friendship.” Richard Matthew Stallman “Grandfather of the Free Software Movement” https://goo.gl/YZC5Oh 😇
  51. 51. Duty Ethics: Goodness is the ability to understand and act on moral obligations. The intent to obey the rule is more important than the outcome. Deontological Ethics
  52. 52. Religious overtones: Love thy neighbour as you would love thy self. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Deontological Ethics
  53. 53. Apple Inc. http://www.apple.com/customer-letter/ “Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks (…) No reasonable person would find that acceptable. ” 😧
  54. 54. BBC http://goo.gl/ywWiZ1 "There are many ways to investigate whether or not these killers had accomplices besides forcing Apple to create software to undermine the security features of their own phones,” "It is potentially a gift to authoritarian regimes, as well as to criminal hackers.” Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 😧
  55. 55. “Why do we need a Code of Conduct? We want open source to be safe and welcoming for all interested participants, but unfortunately that is not always the case. Our intent is to provide clear information about desired and undesired behaviors in our communities, and to enable community members to take action toward making these spaces better for everyone.” 😇 http://citizencodeofconduct.org/
  56. 56. The consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Consequentialist Ethics
  57. 57. Utilitarianism is a classic consequentialist theory holding that the best moral action is the one that maximizes utility. Consequentialist Ethics
  58. 58. 😧
  59. 59. “The licenses for most software and other practical works are designed to take away your freedom to share and change the works. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change all versions of a program--to make sure it remains free software for all its users.” 😇 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.en.html
  60. 60. Open Source is built on a foundation of moral judgements.
  61. 61. • Is it improving the common good? • Is its true purpose transparent and obvious? • Have secondary / tertiary effects been considered and accounted for? • Are we setting reasonable expectations? • Who benefits most? Ethics Checklist for Tech
  62. 62. • Is it improving the common good? • Is its true purpose transparent and obvious? • Have secondary / tertiary effects been considered and accounted for? • Are we setting reasonable expectations? • Who benefits most? Ethics Checklist from Open Source
  63. 63. Put ‘can’ before ‘ought’ and deal with the consequences. tech industry:
  64. 64. Put ‘ought’ before ‘can’ and build a better world. open source:
  65. 65. CAN OPEN SOURCE SAVE US?
  66. 66. We ought to. Let’s see if we can!

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