Blog Series „Congruence and Competition of Norms and Values in the Context of Global Digitalization“

In cooperation with

In the course of forming the global information society, the implementation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has been realized in many parts of the world. Technology today pervades most areas of human life, and is considered a useful tool for international development and the empowerment of disadvantaged groups. However, when implementing technology, central values such as data security, privacy and fair access to the internet are often neglected and local culture, content, and values become marginalized. Especially the export of ICT to the Global South raises concern about cultural domination and even neo-colonialism. Moreover, technology is not neutral but has values embedded in it. This provokes ethical questions about global power relations, (gender) justice, inclusion, and the implications of the distribution and use of technology. The authors in this blog series will explore related issues and discuss the congruence and competition of norms and values in the context of global digitalization.

Questioning the „Normal“: Technology, Progress, and Human Life

by Nolen Gertz

With the rise of big data, internet-of-things, machine learning, targeted advertising, face recognition algorithms, virtual assistants, cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and cyberwarfare, we find more and more people and policy makers around the world debating whether technological advances are helping us or hurting us. Such debates often focus on trying to figure out a way to balance the need to preserve human values with the desire to not interfere with technological progress. The central problem that arises then is what to do when values and progress come into direct conflict with each other. Should we err on the side of caution and rein in companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook so they do not interfere with personal privacy and national democracy? Or should we take a more pioneering perspective and view the occasional rights violation as a necessary risk that can be outweighed by the rewards for medicine, manufacturing, and media? Or should we try to find a middle path and have tech companies and policy makers work together to develop guidelines for “responsible research and innovation”?