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How to Pave The Road to a Digital Magna Carta?

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One of the common beliefs among the tech scholars is that similar to the first industrial revolution replacing muscle power with machine power, the digital revolution is replacing brain power with computer power. Needless to say, digital innovations such as the Internet, of things encompassing virtual reality or big data, or the broader enabled both social and economic progress. Yet, describing these improvements as life-changing would be an overstatement.

While AI can empower human intelligence to a great extent, the advantages it offers should not be taken as replacing our brain power. While there is potential in the helpful applications of AI, it will not replace human intelligence in the foreseeable future.

Some techno-utopian assert that AI will surpass human intelligence —as the futurist Ray Kurzweil refers to it as the “singularity”. According to such scenarios, digitally downloading one’s neurological contents would even enable a person achieve the attainment of eternity.

As Johnston mentions in his ‘Cultural Maturity’ model here, humanity is definitely in need for new ways of thinking about himself and finding the right approaches to the technologies developed. According to Johnston, being an innovator in any ultimately meaningful sense in our times is about bringing new, more mature ways of understanding ourselves and our worlds.

According to this 2015 Financial Times essay by McAfee, all people are important and all technological process involves trade-offs that we should be aware of. Needless to say, technological progress solves many of the problems that humanity faces today such as reducing hunger and disease. 

technological process

As mentioned in an earlier article here, “technological solutions are people-based solutions. We craft tools to solve important problems and to better our lives and the lives of our loved ones. What lifted humanity up and improved our lot as a species is that we learned how to apply knowledge to tasks in a better way through ongoing trial and error experimentation. In other words, we flourished by innovating and as a result of our innovative activities we developed technologies. This continuous process of applying knowledge eventually leads to increased human flourishing as well.”

A glance at history’s big picture reveals that despite the moral progress made from the removal of slavery existing throughout earlier Greeks and Egyptians or the barbaric executions during the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition our modern age did not make much moral progress. A few centuries ago, Magna Carta or Bill of Rights might have come into existence, yet our moral capacity development is still in progress. 

Amidst the complexity of the cognitively complex tools we find ourselves surrendered by, finding our purpose in this world can provide us with the opportunity to discover skills and capacities that can enable us to utilize our tools in the most life-enhancing ways.

Once we understand how we can collaborate with the machines in various capacities that they are devoid of — such as being moral or wise rather than merely intelligent, perhaps we can pave the way to a digital righteous Magna Carta.

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Ayse Kok
Ayse completed her masters and doctorate degrees at both University of Oxford (UK) and University of Cambridge (UK). She participated in various projects in partnership with international organizations such as UN, NATO, and the EU. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at Bogazici University in her home town Turkey. Furthermore, she is the editor of several international journals, including IEEE Internet of Things Journal, Journal of Network & Computer Applications (Elsevier), Journal of Information Hiding and Multimedia Signal Processing...etc. She has also played the role of the guest editor of several international journals of IEEE, Springer, Wiley and Elsevier Science. She attended various international conferences as a speaker and published over 100 articles in both peer-reviewed journals and academic books. Moreover, she is one of the organizing chairs of several international conferences and member of technical committees of several international conferences. In addition, she is an active reviewer of many international journals as well as research foundations of Switzerland, USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. Having published 3 books in the field of technology & policy, Ayse is a member of the IEEE Communications Society, member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Security & Privacy, member of the IEEE IoT Community and member of the IEEE Cybersecurity Community. She also acts as a policy analyst for Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research. Currently, she lives with her family in Silicon Valley and works for Google in Mountain View.

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