The Moral Implications Of Software, And The Creators Of It

Are tools morally neutral?

The rise of technology presents an interesting discussion on the topic.

“A technology is not morally neutral. It embodies a set of values, a framework and an ideology. Technologies include intellectual technologies, such as cataloging and indexing, and software technologies, such as search engines, metasearchers and subject directories on the Internet.”

– Thomas J. Froehlich, Kent State University

There are so many moral implications when creating a software, how do you avoid creating something that could be used for evil?

First it demands that you identify what right and wrong are.

This is no small task, especially in the post modern era we live in of man is god.

To dive into right and wrong is another article, or perhaps book, that we will save for another time.

Once you’ve determined right and wrong you can then consider how you might improve, or better, someone’s life.

I really enjoy this simple framework “Manipulation Matrix” created by Nir Eyal.

Essentially there are four roles you can take when creating a tool.

Facilitator – You create something that you will use and believe will make the user’s life better.

Peddler – You create something you believe will improve others lives but you yourself won’t use it.

Entertainer – You create something fun that doesn’t necessarily improve the user’s life.

Dealer – You create something you do not believe will improves the user’s life.

A “Dealer” is exploitation while the other three roles aren’t necessarily bad.

If you apply this same framework to consider policies governments enact, even rules parents create, it all sheds a very enlightening perspective.

What are the moral implications of what you’re building?

Consider the moral implications.

Photo by Paul Wong on Unsplash.

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