A Bright Red Flag for Democracy | The Atlantic

Source: A Bright Red Flag for Democracy | The Atlantic, by Ethan Zuckerman

Watching the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students engage with their elected leaders is a crash course in understanding how people develop mistrust in representative democracies. The fear is that the experience will quickly teach the students that change is impossible. The hope, instead, is that they will learn that change can occur, but perhaps not through the methods they’ve been taught to use. … The uncomfortable lesson may be that corporations are more responsive to customer concerns than lawmakers are to their constituents. This may be good news in the short term for activists, but it should be a bright red flag for anyone concerned for democracy in the long term.

Mistrust is corrosive. … mistrust of an unresponsive government can easily lead to the conclusion that no vote, no phone call, no protest can make change

When you find yourself denying the very existence of legitimate opposition to your point of view—when people who disagree with you become paid plants hired by George Soros or the Koch brothers—it’s a good indicator that your mistrust has led you through partisanship into alienation.

Mistrust can be weaponized. … When people begin to distrust what their leaders say, what the media reports, what ultimately constitutes reality, something predictable happens: extremism flourishes. Those less confident in their views withdraw from the public sphere, ceding the space to those certain of their views. … That’s the goal of weaponized mistrust—to create a world so angry, so confusing, so hard to recognize that we either arm ourselves as combatants against the other side, or withdraw entirely into inaction and passivity.

If America’s Democracy Fails, Can Other Ones Survive? | The Atlantic

Source: If America’s Democracy Fails, Can Other Ones Survive? | The Atlantic

RE: America Is Not a Democracy: How the United States lost the faith of its citizens—and what it can do to win them back | The Atlantic

RE: The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It, by Yascha Mounk

For all that the enemies of technocracy get right, though, their view is ultimately as simplistic as the antidemocratic one. The world we now inhabit is extremely complex. We need to monitor hurricanes and inspect power plants, reduce global carbon emissions and contain the spread of nuclear weapons, regulate banks and enforce consumer-safety standards. All of these tasks require a tremendous amount of expertise and a great degree of coordination. It’s unrealistic to think that ordinary voters or even their representatives in Congress might become experts in what makes for a safe power plant, or that the world could find an effective response to climate change without entering cumbersome international agreements.

It is true that to recover its citizens’ loyalty, our democracy needs to curb the power of unelected elites who seek only to pad their influence and line their pockets. But it is also true that to protect its citizens’ lives and promote their prosperity, our democracy needs institutions that are, by their nature, deeply elitist. This, to my mind, is the great dilemma that the United States—and other democracies around the world—will have to resolve if they wish to survive in the coming decades. … We need to build a new set of political institutions that are both more responsive to the views and interests of ordinary people, and better able to solve the immense problems that our society will face in the decades to come.

the populist logic ultimately works the same way on the left as it does on the right: Once you’ve said that you alone speak for the whole of the people, any form of opposition to you immediately becomes illegitimate. So once you take power, it becomes very tempting to abolish independent institutions like the courts, to suppress critical voices in the press, and to concentrate more and more power in your own hands.

Nearly all democracies in the world have been founded as monoethnic and monocultural. Decades of immigration have challenged this self-conception. And while a lot of people are very happy to embrace this transformation, others are very resentful about it. … So what we’re trying to create right now is a historically unique experiment.

Two convictions flow from this observation. The first is that we need to fight for an inclusive nationalism. This means that we oppose any attempt to identify the nation with a particular ethnic or religious group … we must also emphasize what we have in common as Americans, rather than scoffing at the need for collective identity … The second conviction gets to the crux of your question. Any genuine liberal democracy will treat all of its citizens the same. But it also lies in the nature of democracies that they get to decide who joins the club. So we need to accept that there can be a legitimate range of opinion about the level of immigration we should have.

Despite all of America’s specific problems, it is the oldest democracy in the world. With the exception of Canada, it has the deepest experience with trying to make a multiethnic democracy work. If the forces that are pulling us apart are strong enough to make democracy fail in this country, I fear that similar reasons will also prove strong enough to make democracy fail in most other countries in the world.

Ethics can’t be a side hustle – Dear Design Student

Source: Ethics can’t be a side hustle – Dear Design Student, by Mike Monteiro

Where can you do good work? The answer is so obvious as to be painful. Right where you stand. That’s where you do good work.

You can’t buy ethics offsets for the terrible things you do at your day job.

Ethics in design: Should the poor behavior of big businesses concern the designers that work for them?

@AIGAeyeondesign (Twitter)

How is this even a question? How is ethics in design (or tech) even debatable? Can you imagine any other industry debating whether they needed to consider ethics? … when other industries behave unethically we get upset.

As a community have we fallen to the level of debating the importance of ethics that’s usually reserved for politicians, bankers, hedge fund managers, pimps, and bookies?

If you want to do good work, and I really hope you do, start doing it at your day job. Start asking questions about what you’re building. Start asking questions about who benefits from what you’re building. Start asking questions about who gets hurt by what you’re building. … if you’re not satisfied with their answers stop working. Designing something without understanding the ramifications of what it does is as unethical as designing something you know to be harmful.

But won’t somebody else make it? … yes. They might. … But here’s the thing. Just because the person next to you might be an asshole, that’s not a very good excuse for you to be one.

Godless yet good: Rules and reasons are not enough for an ethics without God | Aeon Essays, by Troy Jollimore

Source: Godless yet good: Rules and reasons are not enough for an ethics without God | Aeon Essays, by Troy Jollimore

The fact that ethical commitments, in some people’s lives, find a natural place in the context of religion does not imply that such commitments can only be grounded and motivated in religion, nor that a universe can only contain morality if it also contains God.

The reality is, no system of secular ethics has managed to displace religious approaches to ethics in the contemporary popular imagination. It is worth asking why.

Kantian and utilitarian approaches have been both fruitful and influential, and they get a lot of things right. But they share an impersonal, somewhat bureaucratic conception of the human being as a moral agent. The traits that are most highly prized in such agents are logical thinking, calculation, and obedience to the rules. Personal qualities such as individual judgment, idiosyncratic projects and desires, personal commitments and relationships, and feelings and emotions are regarded as largely irrelevant. … This is in stark contrast to most religions, which tend to preserve the deep connection between the ethical and the personal.

At the foundational level, ethics is built not on a system of rules, but on individual human beings who possess character, judgment, and wisdom.

Faced with a situation that demands compassion, the virtuous person responds, spontaneously, with compassion; she doesn’t need to reason herself into it.

This emphasis on being attentive to concrete reality tallies with the idea that it is the emotions (compassion and sympathy in particular), rather than abstract rational principles, that are doing the motivating when it comes to ethical behaviour. … After all, what can count as a moral reason in one context might fail to be a reason in another, or might even be, in certain contexts, a reason pointing in the other direction.

Actions, then, are called just and temperate when they are such as the just or the temperate man would do; but it is not the man who does these that is just and temperate, but the man who also does them as just and temperate men do them.

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

For Aristotle, ‘practical wisdom’ meant the kind of sophisticated and judicious individual judgment that is necessary to deal with the world’s moral complexity. The virtuous person is the person who is capable of judging well, and on this sort of view the only possible definition of moral rightness makes explicit reference to such a person. … Even if a set of rules could pick out the right action in every situation — something Aristotle denies — we would still need individuals possessed of great practical wisdom to understand why the right action in any given case is the right one, to know with what attitude it ought to be performed, to know precisely what motive should be lying behind the action and prompting us to act.

This then is a secular ethics that emphasises the significance of self-cultivation, individual judgment, and emotions such as compassion, as well as recognising the usefulness of moral exemplars — teachers who are paradigms of wisdom, who inspire us and whom we can try to imitate.

Morality can get along just fine without God. But it cannot possibly get by if it neglects and ignores the very things that make human life meaningful and precious.

No one’s coming. It’s up to us. – Dan Hon – Medium

Source: No one’s coming. It’s up to us. – Dan Hon – Medium

If technology is the solution to human problems, we need to do the human work to figure out and agree what our problems are and the kind of society we want. Then we can figure out what technology we want and need to bring about the society we want.

Because if we’re a tool-making, tool-using species that uses technology to solve human problems, then the real question is this: what problems shall we choose to solve?

These are questions that cannot and should not be left to technologists alone. Advances in technology mean that encryption is a societal issue. Content moderation and censorship are a societal issue. Ultimately, it should be for governments (of the people, by the people) to set expectations and standards at the societal level, not organizations accountable only to a board of directors and shareholders.

As a society, we must do the work to have a point of view. What does responsible technology look like?