Finding Virtue in the Virtual

One of humanity’s most important undertakings when it comes to technology is to resist and reject its ill-considered implementations.

From facial recognition systems to the normalisation of ubiquitous surveillance, from autonomous weapons to weaponised social media ecosystems, there has never been a stronger case for mindful delay, dissent, and disavowal – and for forms of ethical thinking that place such dissent upon firm foundations. As the philosopher Carissa Véliz puts it in her 2020 book Privacy is Power, to speak of virtue and lived experience in present times is necessarily to speak of righteous anger as well as cool consideration; of the fact that human growth and flourishing are sometimes best served by resistance:

Aristotle argued that part of what being virtuous is all about is having emotions that are appropriate to the circumstances. When your right to privacy is violated, it is appropriate to feel moral indignation. It is not appropriate to feel indifference or resignation. Do not submit to injustice. Do not think yourself powerless—you’re not.

There is always a choice. My hope is that, together, we can more often make it a wise one.

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