Moral Dilemmas from the Future

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I came across this extremely interesting article that not only gives us a peek into the near future, but also highlights the increasing complexity and moral high seas that businesses need to, and will have to navigate around in the years to come.

Google has been able to predict regional flu trends since 2008 or earlier. And given that most people share with her (I refer to her as Ms. Google) more than they share with close friends and family, Google has been getting increasingly good at predicting if someone may have a certain condition or illness, based on their searches and perhaps the mention of some symptoms, which ordinarily might not raise any red flags.

This article basically talks about whether, in such a situation, Google should, or is, responsible to tell the user that they might be ill, or just go about with business as usual, providing search results and nothing more.

While most of us might have a direct, personal answer to the question, either a ‘most certainly Google should tell me’, or ‘hell no!’, the problem gets more complicated with the large number of false positives (a.k.a. false alarms) and the astronomical medical costs associated with it; not to mention the number of angry users who might perhaps consider suing Google for medical expenses over the incorrect information it gave them out of a moral obligation it may have felt towards its users.

The problem (and article) doesn’t stop with Google, but also touches upon an older but extremely important topic about self-driving cars and the choices they’ll be making on our behalf. Imagine a situation where you, the owner of an autonomous car, are being driven toward a group of people who are irresponsibly standing in the middle of the road. Would you rather your car hit them, or manage to avoid them, but end up hitting a wall that kills you? Or the choice your car might one day make between one of two similar, unavoidable eventualities.

Coming back to the Google problem, while Google’s accuracy has only been getting better with time and searches, it deals with everything from user reactions to health insurance coverage, etc.; all of which makes it a very interesting and complex question to answer.

You should really read this one!

Here’s the article link.

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