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Are We Living Inside an Ethical (and Kind) Machine?

Short thesis

Today, we live online. The Internet informs how we work, play, learn & flirt.

But living online doesn’t mean sitting in front of a screen. The Internet of Things allows the web to permeate our clothes, homes & healthcare. We now live inside a machine. So how do we ensure this machine is ethical & kind? Too often, its inputs are profit & power. Important traits, like compassion & ethics, are absent.

There are two paths forward. Living inside a machine that values inclusion & equality—or living inside a machine defined by surveillance, harassment & exclusion.

Description

Today, we live online. The Internet informs how we work, learn, date, flirt and care for each other.

But more and more, living online doesn’t mean sitting in front of a screen. The Internet of Things — the networked computing environment that spans the globe — allows the web to permeate our clothes, homes and healthcare. The web is now made up of billions of connected devices and zettabytes of data. It’s pervasive.

In short: We now live inside a machine.

So how do we ensure this machine is ethical and kind? Too often, its inputs are profit and power. Critical human elements — like compassion and ethics — are absent.

As IoT proliferates, we need a guiding set of principles. We can’t only ask, "What’s possible?" We must also ask, "What’s responsible?"

There are two paths forward. One: Living inside a machine that values inclusion, equality and democracy. Or two: Living inside a machine defined by surveillance, harassment and exclusion.

Mozilla and its allies around the world are working to chart a positive path forward. There are already examples of an ethical and kind machine in cities like San Antonio, Barcelona and Hubli.

Mozilla and allies have developed six guiding principles for more ethical, kinder IoT (http://bit.ly/2j7THIQ). And we’re planning research, grantmaking and salons to chart the future. We're also seeking more technologists, activists and entrepreneurs for the fight ahead.