Brave new era in technology needs new ethics

©Meeson Pablo Picasso once declared: “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” The Spanish artist’s joke may have been true of the 20th century, when computers were for the most part souped-up calculating machines performing clearly prescribed functions. But the expansion of computing power in the early 21st century means that computers are now posing some of the most testing questions of our times. And it is not clear who is responsible for providing the answers. Technological advances in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics and neuroscience — to name a few — have left policymakers, business people and consumers scrambling to understand their full social, economic and ethical implications. Consider just three questions: first, is artificial intelligence, as Elon Musk believes, “potentially more dangerous than nukes”? The idea…

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