2020 was a year that not only challenged the fortitude of our families but also the fabric of our nation. Last year we saw many complex ethical issues arise from our use of technology in society and as individuals. From the debates over the proper use of social media in society to the adoption of invasive technologies like facial recognition that pushed the bounds of our concepts of personal privacy, many of the ethical challenges exposed in 2020 will flow into 2021, as our society debates how to respond to these developments and how to pursue the common good together as a very diverse community. Here are three areas of ethical concern with technology that our families and communities need to watch out for if we hope to navigate 2021 well.
Law enforcement’s use of facial recognition faces a new wave of scrutiny because of a wrongful arrest lawsuit by Nijeer Parks, a 33-year-old Black man in New Jersey. Parks spent more than a week in jail on charges of shoplifting, drug possession and assault. His case was dismissed in November 2019. While advocates of the tech say it’s a valuable tool in solving crime, facial recognition programs repeatedly show they are less accurate on people of color.
Congress Sets Aside $7 billion for Broadband Expansion – Morning Brew
The pandemic has shown us the opportunity costs of the digital divide. Citizens without reliable, high-speed internet often can’t attend class or work remotely, shop online, or access telehealth services. In the recently passed coronavirus aid package, Congress tucked away $7 billion in funds for broadband expansion efforts.
Amazon Buys Wondery as Podcasting Race Continues – New York Times
Podcasts have been exploding in popularity, with nearly a third of Americans saying at the beginning of 2019 that they listened to at least one monthly. They offer media companies a fast-growing medium and an opportunity to build out their offerings without having to go through powerful interests, like publishers and labels, when licensing music, and studios when licensing films.
Microsoft Hacked in Russia-Linked SolarWinds Cyberattack – Wall Street Journal
The Russia-linked hackers behind a widespread cyber-intrusion into U.S. corporate and government systems were able to access internal systems within Microsoft and view internal source code, used to build software products, the company said last Thursday.
More than 200 people have complained to the UK’s media watchdog Ofcom about Channel 4’s alternative Christmas message, which featured a deepfake of Queen Elizabeth.