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”?