Stop Idolising Youth - Recommended reads

Are we idolising youth? Recommended reads

Stop Idolising Youth - Recommended reads

IQ2 Australia debates whether we need to ‘Stop Idolising Youth’ on 12 June.

Advertisers market to youth despite boomers having the strongest buying power. Unlike professions such as law and medicine, the creative industries prefer ‘digital natives’ over experience.

Young actors play mature aged characters. Yet openly teasing the young for being entitled and lazy is a popular social sport. Are the ageism insults flung both ways?

1. Why do marketers hate old people?

Ad Contrarian, Bob Hoffman / 2 December 2013

Why Do Marketers Hate Old People?

An oldie but a goodie. Bob Hoffman is the entertainingly acerbic critic of marketing and author of books like Laughing@Advertising. In this blog post he aims a crossbow at the seemingly senseless predilection of advertisers for using youth to market their products when older generations have more money and buy more stuff.

“Almost everyone you see in a car commercial is between the ages of 18 and 24,” he says. “And yet, people 75 to dead buy five times as many new cars as people 18 to 24.” He makes a solid argument.

Read the full story


2. It’s time to stop kvetching about ‘disengaged’ millennials

Ben Law, The Sydney Morning Herald / 27 October 2017

It's time to stop kvetching about 'disengaged' millennials

Ben Law asks, “Aren’t adults the ones who deserve the contempt of young people?” He argues it is older generations with influence and power who are not addressing things as big as the non-age-discriminatory climate crisis. He also shares some anecdotes about politically engaged and polite public transport riding kids.

You might regard a couple of the jokes in this piece leaning toward ageist quips but Law is also making them at his own expense. He points out millennials – the generation to which he belongs and the usual target for jokes about entitled youth – are nearing middle age.

Read the full story


3. Let’s end ageism

Ashton Applewhite, TED Talk / April 2017



There’s something very likeable about Ashton Applewhite – beyond her endearing name. This is even though she opens her TEDTalk with the confronting fact the one thing we all have in common is we’re always getting older. Sure, we’re not all lucky enough to get old, but we constantly age.

In pointing to this shared aspect of humanity, Applewhite makes the case against ageism. This typically TED nugget of feel good inspiration is great for every age. And if you’re anywhere between late 20s and early 70s, you’ll love the happiness bell curve. In a nutshell: it gets better!

Watch on TED


4. Instagram’s most popular nan

Baddiewinkle, Instagram/ Helen Van Winkle



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Her tagline is “stealing ur man since 1928”. Get lost in a delightful scroll through fun, colourful images from a social media personality who does not give a flying fajita for “age appropriate” dressing or demeanours. Baddie Winkle was born Helen Ruth Elam Van Winkle in Kentucky over 90 years ago.

Her internet stardom began age 85 when her great granddaughter Kennedy Lewis posted a photo of her in cut-off jeans and a tie-dye tee. Now Winkle’s granddaughter Dawn Lewis manages her profile and bookings. Her 3.8 million followers show us audiences aren’t only interested young social media influencers. “They want to be me when they get older,” Winkle says. Damn right we do.

Follow her here


Event info

IQ2 Australia makes public debate smart, civil and fun. On 12 June two teams will argue for and against the statement, ‘Stop Idolising Youth’. Ad writer Jane Caro and mature aged model Fred Douglas take on TV writer Ben Jenkins and author Nayuka Gorrie. Tickets here.

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What are the characteristics of youth?

The Ethics of Fucking Up

What I now know about the ethics of fucking up

The Ethics of Fucking Up

We’ve all fucked up before. Big mistakes and small, regrettable misdemeanours.

I have a penchant for saying things that are funny inside my head but come out all wrong. I know I’ve unintentionally offended and hurt people by blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. If I’ve become aware of it, I’ve tried to make amends. But it’s never been big, public or career ending. So, being honest, part of my interest in going along to ‘The Ethics of Fucking Up’ was schadenfreude.

I wanted to hear how Sam Dastyari and Mel Greig, who shared their stories of the ‘Chinese political donor scandal’ and the ‘Royal prank call’ had stuffed up. In truth, I wanted to revel in it just a little, to tell myself that at least it had never been that bad for me. I wanted to identify with Paul McDermott, whose fuck ups had never made the front pages or ruined lives.

I watched the crowd enter the sold-out venue in inner Sydney, thinking that every single one of these people who looked so smart, privileged and self-possessed had done at least one monumentally stupid thing in their lives. Had they come looking for redemption? For confirmation that what they did was okay? Because we all fuck up, whether we’re being naïve and thoughtless or doing something dastardly.

Pizza, wine and dark confessions

So what did I take away from a night that was variously funny, intelligent, shocking and sad, with pizza and wine thrown in for good measure?

It seems the biggest fuck ups come about when there is a combination two things: individuals being encouraged to act without first thinking through their decisions, and institutions not living by an ethical framework – or not having one at all. Add to that the speed at which we act in the tech era and it’s no wonder we’ve hurtled into our present state.

As Sam described it, ‘We’re heading backwards with our morality, with our acceptance and empathy for others, with our responsibility for the planet, while fear, selfishness and xenophobia are controlling our political decisions’.

So despite not being able to condone what he did in the ‘Chinese political donor scandal’, my heart ached for him when he described how, in the midst of the scandal, he lay in bed at 3am alone with his thoughts, realising he was solely responsible for the mess.

Rethinking forgiveness

Nobody deserves this unless they have committed some monstrous crime. I decided that I will accept mea culpas and requests for forgiveness more graciously, in my personal life and by public figures. When somebody shows true remorse, I’ll forgive them, because I’m more aware how we all fuck up from time to time, in big and small ways. It’s only human.

We love to hold individuals to account, especially when they are public figures. Perhaps we should be harder on institutions. Mel Greig told us how the broadcast organisation’s processes and ethical judgements went unquestioned during the ‘Royal prank call’.

To recap: the call to the London hospital caring for the Duchess of Cambridge ended in the suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who fell for the joke thinking it was the Queen and Prince Charles. A chain of decisions meant the prank call was broadcast in full – although Mel tried to stop this happening.

Yet Mel had to wear all the blame. Her description of the trolling she endured afterwards, which included death threats, made the room go quiet. Tears shone in the eyes of the person next to me. Public shaming, relentlessly negative and disparaging media coverage and the non-stop blast of social media are damaging people like never before. At no time has it been easier to broadcast judgment on individuals, instantly and loudly. But institutions are never made to suffer in the same way. Think banking royal commission.

How would I survive if this happened to me, I wondered?

A call to arms against the trolls

Would I be brave and resilient like Mel, and use the horrible experience to start a conversation to help other people, as she did by starting Troll Free Day? Would I have been strong enough to front up to the inquest into nurse Jacintha Saldanha’s death, look her children in the eye and say sorry? Would I stop looking for scapegoats and accept blame, as Sam did, learning to live with what he called ‘the darkest shit in the world’?

As always, a discussion about ethics goes on long after the lights have been turned off. Listening to this conversation about the ethics of fucking up has encouraged me to start conversations about it with friends and family. I realised we all draw the line about what we will and won’t forgive somewhere different, one of the things that defines our personal ethics.

The crowd drifted into the street to the sounds of Paul Kelly’s I’ve Done All the Dumb Things and Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Time. Neither has ever been on my playlist, but I heard them in a new way. Opening your ears to things you think you think you already know is good thing.

I’ll certainly go back for The Ethics Centre’s conversations on desire, lying, courage and nudity.



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How could you have avoided the biggest you’ve ever made?

Drawing a line on corruption: latest submission

The Ethics Centre (TEC) has made a submission to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) regarding its discussion paper, The Regulation of Lobbying, Access and Influence in NSW: A Chance To Have Your Say.

Released in April 2019 as part of Operation Eclipse, it’s public review into how lobbying activities in NSW should be regulated.

As a result of the submission TEC Executive Director, Dr Simon Longstaff has been invited to bear witness at the inquiry, which will also consider the need to rebuild public trust in government institutions and parliamentarians.

Our submission acknowledged the decline in trust in government as part of a broader crisis experienced across our institutional landscape – including the private sector, the media and the NGO sector. It is TEC’s view that the time has come to take deliberate and comprehensive action to restore the ethical infrastructure of society.

We support the principles being applied to the regulation of lobbying: transparency, integrity, fairness and freedom.

Key points within The Ethics Centres submission include:

    • There is a difference between making representations to government on one’s own behalf and the practice of paying another person or party with informal government connections to advocate to government. TEC views the latter to be ‘lobbying’
    • Lobbying has the potential to allow the government to be influenced more by wealthier parties, and interfere with the duty of officials and parliamentarians to act in the public interest
    • No amount of compliance requirements can compensate for a poor decision making culture or an inability of officials, at any level, to make ethical decisions. While an awareness and understanding of an official’s obligations is necessary, it is not sufficient. There is a need to build their capacity to make ethical decisions and support an ethical decision making culture.

You can read the full submission here

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How could you have avoided the biggest you’ve ever made?

Bridging course

The Ethics Centre to develop ethics bridging course for financial advisers

Bridging course

The Ethics Centre is developing a higher-education ethics course for financial advisers to help them meet the requirements of the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) reforms.

The Ethics Centre will deliver the pilot ethics and professionalism bridging course for financial advisers in conjunction with an Australian university in late 2019.

Dr Simon Longstaff AO, Executive Director of The Ethics Centre, said the course will support financial advice practices as they integrate the FASEA reforms into their operations.

“Our aim is for this pilot course to set the benchmark for ethics education for the financial advice community as it continues to develop into a profession.

“Financial advisers should be encouraged to offer a competitive professional service in all areas but one – their ethics.

“The ideal is for this emerging profession to have a common ethical foundation, enriched by a common understanding informed by a common set of educational experiences. Our hope is that this new course will be widely embraced across the profession – for the good of society and the clients it serves.”

In developing the bridging course, The Ethics Centre will access the expert guidance of an advisory group comprised of peak industry bodies, consumer advocates and leading academics.

It will also build on the Centre’s existing experience in education for financial advisers, having run the Ethical Professional Program for the financial services sector since 2016. The Ethics Centre was named Training Education Provider of the Year in the 2017 Optus MyBusiness Awards for its Ethical Professional Program.

The course will initially be piloted through the university partner, and The Ethics Centre welcomes expressions of interest from other higher-education providers to facilitate the curriculum after the pilot is complete.

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Climate change and the next migrant crisis

Are we prepared for climate change and the next migrant crisis?

Climate change and the next migrant crisis

A powerful infographic published in 2014, predicted how many years it would take for a world city to drown.

It used data from NASA, Sea Level Explorer, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Venice will be the first to go under apparently, its canals rising to wetly throttle the city of love. Amsterdam is set to follow, Hamburg next.

Other tools play out the encroachment of rising tides on our coasts. This one developed by EarthTime shows Sydney airport as a large puddle if temperatures increase by four degrees. There’s also research suggesting our ancestors may one day look down to see fish nibbling on the Opera House sails.

Climate change refugees will become reality

Sea level rise is just one effect of anthropogenic climate change that would make a place uninhabitable or inhospitable to humankind. It’s also relatively slow. Populations in climate vulnerable hotspots face a slew of other shove factors, too.

Already, we are seeing a rising frequency of extreme weather events. Climate change was linked to increasingly destructive tropical cyclones in a report published in Nature last year, and Australia’s Climate Council attributed the same to earlier and more dangerous fire seasons. Rapidly changing ecosystems will impact water resources, crop productivity, and patterns of familiar and unfamiliar disease. Famine, drought, poverty and illness are the horsemen saddling up.

Some will die as a result of these events. Others, if they are able, will choose to stay. The far sighted and privileged may pre-empt them, relocating in advance of crisis or discomfort.

These migrants can be expected to move through the ‘correct’ channels, under the radar of nativist suspicion. (‘When is an immigrant not an immigrant?’ asks Afua Hirsch. ‘When they’re rich’.)

But many more will become displaced peoples, forcibly de-homed. Research estimates this number could be anywhere between 50 million and 1 billion in the 21st century. This will prompt new waves of interstate and international flows, and a resultant redistribution and intensification of pressures and tensions on the global map.

How will the world respond?

Where will they go? What is the ethical obligation of states to welcome and provide for them? With gross denialism characterising global policies towards climate change, and intensifying hostility locking down national borders, how prepared are we to contend with this challenge to come?

“You can’t wall them out,” Obama recently told the BBC. “Not for long.”

While interstate climate migration (which may already be occurring in Tasmania) will incur infrastructural and cultural problems, international migration is a whole and humongous other ethical conundrum. Not least because currently, climate change migrants have almost no legal protections.

Is a person who moves because of a sudden, town levelling cyclone more entitled to the status of climate migrant or refugee (and the protection it affords) than someone who migrates as a result of the slow onset attrition of their livelihood due to climate change?

Who makes the rules?

Does sudden, violent circumstance carry a greater ethical demand for hospitality than if, after many years of struggle, a Mexican farmer can no longer put food on the table because his land has turned to dust? Does the latter qualify as a climate or economic migrant, or both?

Somewhat ironically (and certainly depressingly), the movement of people to climate ‘havens’ will place stress on those environmental sanctuaries themselves, potentially leading to concentrated degradation, pollution and threat to non-human nature. (On the other hand, climate migration could allow for nature to reclaim the places these migrants have left.)

There is also the argument that, once migrants from developing countries have been integrated into a host country, their carbon footprint will increase to resemble that of their new fellow citizenry – resulting in larger CO2 emissions. From this perspective, put forward by Philip Cafaro and Winthrop Staples, it is in the interests of the planet for prosperous countries to limit their welcome.

Not that privileged populations need much convincing. Jealous fear of future scarcity, a globalisation inflamed resentment towards the Other, a sense that modernity has failed to deliver on its promise of wholesale bounty: all these are conspiring to create increasingly tribalised societies that enable the xenophobic agendas of their governments. A recent poll showed that 46 percent of Australians believe immigration should be reduced, a percentage consistent with attitudes worldwide.



A divided world

In the US, there’s Trump’s grand ‘us vs them’ symbol of a wall. As reported in the Times, German lawmakers are comparing refugees to wolves. In Italy, tilting towards populism and the right, a mayor was arrested after transforming his small town into a migrant sanctuary.

Closer to home, in a country where the 27 years without recession could be linked to immigration, there’s Scott Morrison’s newly proposed immigration cuts. There’s Senator Anning blaming the Christchurch massacre on Muslim immigration. There’s the bipartisan support for the prospects, wellbeing and mental health of asylum seekers to deteriorate to such an extent, the UN human rights council described it as ‘massive abuse’.

Yet the local effects of climate change don’t have a local origin. Causality extends beyond borders, piling miles high at the feet of industrialised countries. Nations like the US and Australia enjoy high standards of living largely because we have been pillaging and burning fossil fuels for more than a century. Yet those least culpable will bear the heaviest cost.

This, argues the author of a paper published in Ethics, Policy and Environment, warrants a different ethical framework than that which applies to other kinds of migration. He concludes that industrialised nations “have a moral responsibility … to compensate for harms that their actions have caused”.

This responsibility may include investing in less developed countries to mitigate climate change effects, writes the author. But it also morally obliges giving access, security and residence to those with nowhere else to go.

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What level of protection do you expect from another country?


Australia, it’s time to curb immigration


A majority of Australians welcome immigrants. So why then do opinion polls of young and old voters alike across the political divide, now find majority support for reducing our immigration intake?

Perhaps it could be for the same reason that faith in our political system is dwindling at a time of strong economic growth. Australia is the ‘lucky country’ that hasn’t had a recession in the last 28 years.

Yet we’ve actually had two recessions in this time if we consider GDP on a per-capita basis. This, combined with stagnant real wage growth and sharp increases in congestion and the price of housing and electricity in our major cities, could explain why the Australian success story is inconsistent with the lived experience of so many of us.


The decline of the Australian dream?

Our current intake means immigration now acts as a ponzi scheme.

The superficial figure of a growing headline GDP fuelled by an increasing population masks the reality of an Australian dream that is becoming increasingly out of reach for immigrants and native-born Australians alike.

We’ve been falsely told we’ve weathered economic calamities that have stunned the rest of the world. When taken on a per-capita basis, our economy has actually experienced negative growth periods that closely mirror patterns in the United States.

We’re rightly told we need hardworking immigrants to help foot the bill for our ageing population by raising productivity and tax revenue. Yet this cost is also offset when their ageing family members or other dependents are brought over. Since preventing them from doing so may be cruel, surely it’s fairer to lessen our dependence on their intake if we can?

A lack of infrastructure

Over 200,000 people settle in Australia every year, mostly in the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne. That’s the equivalent of one Canberra or greater Newcastle area a year.

Unlike the United States, most economic opportunities are concentrated in a few major cities dotting our shores. This combined with the failures of successive state and federal governments to build the infrastructure and invest in the services needed to cater for record population growth levels driven majorly by immigration.

A failure to rezone for an appropriate supply of land, mean our schools are becoming crowded, our real estate prohibitively expensive, our commutes are longer and more depressing, and our roads are badly congested.

Today, infrastructure is being built, land is finally being rezoned to accommodate higher population density and more housing stock in the outer suburbs, and the Prime Minister has made regional job growth one of his major priorities.

But these issues should have been fixed ten years ago and it’s increasingly unlikely that they will be executed efficiently and effectively enough to catch up to where they need to be should current immigration intake levels continue for the years to come.

Our governments have proven to be terrible central planners, often rejecting or watering down the advice of independent expert bodies like Infrastructure Australia and the Productivity Commission due to political factors.

Why would we trust them to not only get the answer right now, but to execute it correctly? Our newspapers are filled daily with stories about light rail and road link projects that are behind schedule.

All of it paid for by taxpayers like us.

Foreign workers or local graduates?

Consider also the perverse reality of foreign workers brought to our shores to fill supposed skill gaps who then struggle to find work in their field and end up in whatever job they can get.

Meanwhile, you’ll find two separate articles in the same week. One from industry groups cautioning against cutting skilled immigration due to shortages in the STEM fields. The other reporting that Australian STEM graduates are struggling to find work in their field.

Why would employers invest resources in training local graduates when there’s a ready supply of experienced foreign workers? What incentive do universities have to step in and fill this gap when their funding isn’t contingent on employability outcomes?

This isn’t about nativism. The immigrants coming here certainly have a stake in making sure their current or future children can find meaningful work and obtain education and training to make them job ready.

There’s only one way to hold our governments accountable so the correct and sometimes tough decisions needed to sustain our way of life and make the most of the boon that immigration has been for the country, are made. It’s to wean them off their addiction to record immigration levels.

Lest the ponzi scheme collapse.

And frank conversations about the quantity and quality of immigration that the sensible centre of politics once held, increasingly become the purview of populist minor parties who have experienced resurgence on the back of widespread, unanswered frustrations about unsustainable immigration that we are ill-prepared for.

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Do you have a right to protect your good fortune?

Where do ethics and politics meet?

In the Western philosophical tradition, ethics and politics were frequently deemed to be two sides of a single coin.

Aristotle’s Ethics sought to answer the question of what is a good life for an individual person. His Politics considered what is a good life for a community (a polis). So, for the Ancient Greeks, at least, the good life existed on an unbroken continuum ranging from the personal through the familial to the social.

In some senses, this reflected an older belief that individuals exist as part of society. Indeed, in many cultures – in the Ancient world and today – the idea of an isolated individual makes little sense. Yet, there are a few key moments in Western philosophy when we see the individual emerging.

St Thomas Aquinas argued that no individual or institution has ‘sovereignty’ over the well-informed conscience of the individual.

Renee Descartes placed the self-certain subject at the centre of all knowledge and in doing so undermined the authority of institutions that based their claims to superiority on revelation, tradition or hierarchy. Reason was to take centre stage.

Aquinas and Descartes (along with too many to be named here) helped to set the foundations for a modern form of politics in which the conscientious judgement of the individual takes precedence over that of the community.

Today, we observe a global political landscape in which ethics can be hard to detect. It’s easy to say that many politicians are ruled by naked greed, fear, opinion polls, blind ideology or a lust for power.



This probably isn’t fair to the many politicians who apply themselves to their responsibilities with care and diligence.

In the end, ethics is about living an examined life – something that should apply whether the choices to be made are those of an individual, a group or a whole society.

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Does ethics have a seat in the house of politics?

A bittersweet farewell to Tess Howard

A bittersweet farewell to Tess Howard

In one of those ‘bitter-sweet’ moments, I need to report the retirement of one of the Centre’s most important members of staff, Tess Howard.

Anyone who has dealt with Tess, over her twenty years of service to the Centre (and who has not!) will have had the privilege of encountering a person of unfailing warmth and decency.

For Tess, working at the Centre was never just a ‘job’. Nor were its members, clients, staff (employed and volunteers) merely ‘stakeholders’. Tess brings everyone into relationship and her work has always had the character of being a vocation – no matter what her role.

Tess has been one of the longest serving members of staff at The Ethics Centre

As it happens, Tess is one of two remarkable sisters who have worked with us. The first of the pair to join was Antoinette Simon – who similarly provided the ‘interpersonal glue’ for multiple generations of Vincent Fairfax Fellows.

As noted above, it was around twenty years ago that Ant introduced us to her (slightly) older sister, Marie-Therese – known to all as Tess. They are a formidable pair. I would occasionally run into them at the Royal Easter Show. Barely recognisable under a billowing cloud of show-bags, no one there was ever going to be having more fun.

Tess having fun at an art class during the 1980s

Tess has brought that same vivacity to her work. She really does embody The Ethics Centre at its best – giving more than she has ever received. In that sense, Tess is the perfect ambassador for ethics as something that one does; that one lives.

In a remarkable turning of the wheel, Tess is passing the baton to Rosemary Smithson – one of her former colleagues from a much earlier period in the Centre’s history.

Rosemary has returned to the Centre after a period of remarkable accomplishments as CEO of the Property Industry Foundation. I hope that you will join with me in farewelling Tess and welcoming Rosemary.

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What is Free Will ethics?

What is the definition of Free Will ethics?

What is Free Will ethics?

Free Will describes our capacity to make choices that are genuinely our own. With free will comes moral responsibility – our ownership of our good and bad deeds.

That ownership indicates that if we make a choice that is good, we deserve the resulting rewards. If in turn we make a choice that is bad, we probably deserve those consequences as well. In the case of a really bad choice, such as committing murder, we may have to accept severe punishment.

The link between free will and responsibility has both theological and philosophical roots.

Within theology, for example, the claim that humans are ‘made in the image of God’ (a central tenet of major religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam) is not that they are the physical image of their creator.

Rather, the claim is made that humans are made in the ‘moral image’ of God – which is to say that they are endowed with the ‘divine’ capacity to exercise free will.

Of course, the experience of free will is not limited to those who hold a religious belief. Philosophers also argue that it would be unjust to blame someone for a choice over which they have no control.

Determinism is the belief that all choices are determined by an unbroken chain of cause and effect. Those who believe in ‘determinism’ oppose free will, arguing that that the belief that we are the authors of our own actions is a delusion.

While scientific evidence has found that there is brain activity prior to the sensation of having made a choice, is unable to the resolve the question of which account is correct.

Should that gap close – and free will be proven to be an illusion, then the basis for ascribing guilt to those who act unethically (including criminals) will also be destroyed.

How could we justify punishing a person who claims that they had no choice but to do evil?

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Is free will merely just an illusion?


Why ethics matters for autonomous cars

Why ethics matters for autonomous cars?

Whether a car is driven by a human or a machine, the choices to be made may have fatal consequences for people using the vehicle or others who are within its reach.

A self-driving car must play dual roles – that of the driver and of the vehicle. As such, there is a ‘de-coupling’ of the factors of responsibility that would normally link a human actor to the actions of a machine under his or her control. That is decision to act and the action itself are both carried out by the vehicle.

Autonomous systems are designed to make choices without regard to the personal preferences of human beings, those who would normally exercise control over decision-making.

Given this, people are naturally invested in understanding how their best interests will be assessed by such a machine (or at least the algorithms that shape – if not determine – its behaviour).

In-built ethics from the ground up

There is a growing demand that the designers, manufacturers and marketers of autonomous vehicles embed ethics into the core design – and then ensure that they are not weakened or neutralised by subsequent owners.

We can accept that humans make stupid decisions all the time, but, we hold autonomous systems to a higher standard.

This is easier said than done – especially when one understands that autonomous vehicles are unlikely ever to be entirely self-sufficient. For example, autonomous vehicles will often be integrated into a network (e.g. geospatial positioning systems) that complements their integrated, onboard systems.


A complicated problem

This will exacerbate the difficulty of assigning responsibility in an already complex network of interdependencies.

If there is a failure, will the fault lie with the designer of the hardware, or the software, or the system architecture…or some combination of these and others? What standard of care will count as being sufficient when the actions of each part affects the others and the whole?

This suggests that each design element needs to be informed by the same ethical principles – so as to ensure as much ethical integrity as possible. There is also a need to ensure that human beings are not reduced to the status of being mere ‘network’ elements.

What we mean by this is to ensure the complexity of human interests are not simply weighed in the balance by an expert system that can never really feel the moral weight of the decisions it must make.

For more insights on ethical technology, make sure you download our ‘Ethical by Design‘ guide where we take a detailed look at the principles companies need to consider when designing ethical technology.

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Would you travel in an autonomous car?