It’s Time for Tech to Ask ‘Should We’ Instead of ‘Could We’

What happens when Google, Microsoft, and other big tech companies call on philosophers for ethics help

Madelaine Ley
OneZero

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Photo: Michael Dziedzic/Unsplash

TThe future of intelligence is being shaped by five companies, reality is splintering off into political extremes, and expertise is seen as inherently suspicious. A few technology companies have weaved themselves into the essential fabric of our lives — all while automating racial profiling, rigging elections, and undermining worker solidarity.

Philosophers are being called upon more and more to go beyond the reactionary “What the f**k is going on?” and dig into the more nuanced work of “Why?” “How?” and “Should we?”

Responses to these urgent questions are enormous, global, and powerful, while also being detailed, local, and fragile. Answers to “WTF?!” will be layered stories of a few tech giants, millions of businesses and startups, and billions of individuals, each driven by their own unique and messy motivations. To grasp even a small part of this whole — which is all one can ever do — there needs to be a move from critical thinking to creative thinking.

The former tends to prioritize reason and tidiness, while the latter seeks understanding through curiosity and collaborative listening. This…

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Madelaine Ley
OneZero
Writer for

Centering care ethics in tech design, collaborating with engineers towards future worth caring about.