Technology Gives Form to our Moral Ambitions


In the thousands of years that we have built human societies we haven’t become better people. But still, there have been common decisions that we can doubtlessly call morally superior: outlawing slavery, child labor, and many others. The difference is represented by technology, whose development gives rise to new levels of understanding what is possible.

On Saturday, Feb 6, I gave a talk at the Birkbeck College in London, invited by London Futurists. Organized by David Wood, the event was very well attended, and the audience followed the talk with numerous questions. Here is the video of the talk and of the Q&A session as well.

The three sections of the talk cover socio-economic evolution, the rapidly approaching decentralized future, and machine morality.

If you asked a Roman slave if his condition was just, the reply would be evidently “no, it isn’t”. But if you followed with the second question: “Can you imagine a society without slavery?”, you would receive a scornful bitter laughter as a response. Somebody has to move the boulder, and if its not one slave, an other one will after the first is killed.

Today we have machines for the same inhuman tasks…

The question than becomes: what are the dogmatically accepted axioms about our current society that will be evidently and laughably wrong in a few years?

This post is also available in: Italian