March 2, 2024

The top tech ethical issues of 2016

From talking Barbie to CRISPR

What will the top ethical dilemmas of technology be in 2016? The John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values at the University of Notre Dame has released its annual list to get people thinking before controversial science or technology goes mainstream.

Here are the ethical issues, listed in no particular order. Bioethical concerns are very prominent.

  • Talking Barbie — a new Barbie that wants to record conversations she has with your child.
  • CRISPR/Cas9 — technology for gene editing.
  • Rapid whole genome diagnosis — a way to record and catalog the genomes of newborns in order to improve disease detection.
  • Digital labor rights — a discussion of the tension between anonymous workers and anonymous bosses.
  • Head transplants — a procedure that one doctor has promised to develop by 2017.
  • Disappearing drones — drones that deliver payloads and then disappear into thin air without any indication of who sent it.
  • Artificial wombs — the potential to grow a human fetus outside of a woman’s body is creating concerns with women’s rights advocates.
  • Bone conduction for marketing — Verizon already has the technology to transmit ads to your brain through your bones, as well as your skin.
  • Lethal cyber weapons — a potentially lethal computer program can cause a real explosion.
  • Exoskeletons for the elderly — technology that helps people be more mobile and keep working but postpones retirement.
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