TEDxSV Talks

Posted: May 16th, 2011 | Comments Off

Damon is animated. Damon leaves alone massive calculations and speaks to a static screen. He hits us with the softer side of numbers . . . or so it seems. The responsibility that comes with the power within all the data we have is actually pretty heavy.
Data on each of us is everywhere and we and other people can use it, almost like a “tell” in poker: somewhere someone tracks if you pay your bills on time, where you click on a website, what your medical history is . . . and they have a better idea of how you might act in the future.
Question: should we be collecting all of someone’s data to makes his experiences better (and to maybe make us safer) or leave him alone?
People in the audience obviously cant agree or don’t have an opinion and Damon (knowing this would happen) shows us how we have stronger, clearer views on our smart phones than on moral choices.
My thought – there is a simple reason for this, moral viewpoints are murky and challenging; what just happened doesn’t mean the audience is morally adrift at sea. But Damon’s point isn’t to chastise, it is to urge us to actively think about morals. He asks us to “think less about our mobile operating system and more about our moral operating system.”
He continues “How might we use numbers as a basis for a moral framework? What if ethics were like math?” What about a calculation that shows what maximizes group utility and minimizes social pain? Well, that’s utilitarianism. Some adhere, but ages of philosophers and the never ending debate between those that ascribe to Mill, or Kant, or Plato, or Aristotle tell us that there are to be no easy answers.
Ethics is hard. It requires (uncomfortable) thinking. But thinking, Damon syas, is what we need to continue to do; it is often what we forget to consciously take the time to do.
Damon introduces the concept of “The Banality of Evil”- wrong doings don’t necessary come from bad people but from the lack of thinking about what is right.
- Post by Julian Marcelleus Jordan

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