Culture and Ethics


Hi, everyone. This is Steven Downs. Welcome back to ethics analytics and the duty of care, pushing our way through in the final sections of the final module. This is module eight and ethical practices and learning analytics. And the video were doing right now is called culture and ethics. It's a short introduction, a little bit of a hodgepodge video to introduce the third major section of the module, which is on culture.

And in this section, I'll be talking about three major subject areas, culture itself, citizenship and democracy. Now, to remind you kind of where we are in this module, we're as I said before, going down the staircase, we began with regulation, we looked a lot at practices up at the higher end of the staircase.

Things are more formal, more institutional. It's where a lot of the talk happens in the field of ethics and analytics, especially it's focused on the institutional approach it's focused on wrongs. But ethics to me, more naturally is what happens down the staircase, focused, more on the good. It's more personal, it's less formal.

And so we're moving towards things like culture and then something resembling ethical joy of an awful. Call it that by the time we get there, but something, resembling ethical joy at the end. So that's where we're at. As I said, this would be a short video just to introduce the subject and it's like this because I wasn't sure what order I wanted to present the next three videos in.

I could have started with democracy and then citizenship, and then culture, which probably would have fit this staircase model a bit better, but if it felt better to me to be begin with culture, and then out of culture, we evolve into our discussion of citizenship and ultimately our discussion of democracy.

So I'm going to do it that way, but if you feel strongly, you can watch those three videos in the other order, and it won't matter to me. So, where do we begin with culture and ethics? I'm gonna go back to Max Weber, oddly enough, no. Max Weber was well, known.

As the person who characters caricature, try that again, characterized the Protestant work ethic as the dominant ethos behind capitalism. Well, as he says in capitalism, all that matters is the increased acquisition of wealth. And this is justified under the dictum. God helps those who help themselves. And so, the relation here between this and ethics is, what can be called emancipation from economic traditionalism.

Now, in a document from Abaddon, this is translated to me, something like moving away from what might be called, a dual morality thesis. So the dual morality thesis is the idea that there's one morality for yourself and another morality for your treatment of outsideers. So the morality for yourself or perhaps for your family, or your in group, or maybe your tribe, whatever terminology wish to use you conduct yourself with your peers and one way.

But you know, it becomes a matter of high art to deceive or perhaps, even to enslave members of the out group, whatever that out group may be. And so there isn't that strong requirement that you for example, always be honest, no matter what. So according to this document, the avid and document the reason for the economic success in Europe, wasn't so much capitalism.

Although again, ethics is a precondition for capitalism. But rather this idea of that, there was one single common set of people all across Europe, who thought of themselves as all part of this wider enterprise. So you didn't have in groups and out groups in Europe. All of Europe was involved in this big practice of focusing on the increased acquisition of wealth.

So you would be honest with the person from Britain, you would be honest with the person from France, you'd be honest with the person from Turkey, didn't matter where they were from, that's what the Avatar thinks. This and they have a little chart there to putatively demonstrate, the honesty of people in Western countries as compared to other countries.

Now, all kinds of flaws in that argument one clarify has the Europeans very much had outsideers people who lived in Europe but were outsideers in many cases. For example, Jews and gypsies or the Roma people would certainly talk about what it's like to be treated as an outsider and Europeans were very happy to enslave or colonize or in other ways.

Mistreat or act on ethically toward non-Europeans that's famous and it's not like Europe has some sort of monopoly on honesty. That chart not withstanding because I have felt and I know that other people have felt very safe and very secure and knowing that I would be treated honestly in cultures around the world.

Japan, particularly is where nouned forex honesty but I experienced similar treatments in Malaysia, for example, and in the Middle East, even though I'm very much, an outsider there was greeted with respect and honesty and courtesy. So, you know, there's and that's kind of what the problem is to alerts degree with ethics.

He said we feel that we have it and other people don't. And that's sort of what's happening in capitalist ethics as well. We have this idea that ethics is a pre-condition of capitalism and so we certainly quite ethics in capitalism. But you know, because ethics is necessary to capitalism.

It does not follow that. Capitalism is necessary to ethics. And so we need to avoid the, the tendency the pulp to believing that. There's a specific kind of cultural ethical value somewhere in the world. That is superior to the rest. I want to talk about the relationship between culture and ethics.

But no culture has a monopoly on ethics and the relationship between them is going to be quite different from the way it is presented here in a sense by Max Fever and certainly by Avatar things like specialization leading the skills and an increase in quality. All of these things may lead to greater productivity in greater wealth doesn't follow.

That greater wealth is ethical. There's nothing wrong with that. The big problem with wealth isn't the acquisition of wealth is the misuse of. Well, not maybe but it's arguable that there are problems with the acquisition of wealth too and we'll explore. Some of that. So that's kind of a preliminary.

Another part of our preliminary is this whole idea that culture and social practices kind of go hand in hand.

And we can think of, for example, the way environmentalists develop, their own set of cultural practices their own set of norms, their own set of values. Same with mine were wine, merchants, and porto. And often this is created by pitting themselves against an opponent or an outside the environmentalist against the people who want to cut down trees, the wine merchants and portal against the, the British wine merchants who basically owned the trade up to a certain point.

In time, social practice theory attempts to the integration of emotion motivation agency, and all of these things into something like a cultural, historical activity theory. Now, I'm activity theory and we've talked about this, another courses, as is a system's kind of theory. And so we're thinking of cultures and systems economies of symptoms of systems.

And when we're talking about systems, we're talking about things with clear, intents clear boundaries and therefore tensions and conflicts between the system and something external to the system. And yeah, let's part of the study of culture and part of the study of social practice, and we see this come out from time to time.

For example, in Julian star, just the other day. Wrote about dominant narratives and social change. The dominant narrative. Might be how we characterize a culture. I don't know if I want to go so far as to say that the two are the same clearly. They're not exactly the same but still with these dominant narratives they're part of a system, they're part of a collection, a group of people a culture of people and you have these interactions these conflicts or these intersections between them and that he says maybe where change happens but I think culture and change are based on more than just conflict and I think that's an important realization that we're going to need to take forward with us because so much of what we talk about in ethics.

And in technology policy generally is about conflict and change. Happens in lots of other ways. Change happens through growth, birth, and death, and happiness, through movement and inertia, only some of it is caused by friction. Every time we build something, every time we make something, every time we design something, we're creating change.

And the big question is, how are we doing this? And this is where the question of design. In the question of architecture is going to come into our discussion. So, there are different ways of thinking about design, I was greatly influenced by a guy called Dan Lockton, who for a number of years, I guess while he was studying for his PhD and then converting that into a book wrote on something called architectures of control and design and few examples.

Here, we have the car that actually won't let you open the hood to try to repair the engine. We have the famous bench with the the little armrest in the middle there, so that homeless people can't sleep on it. We have the printer that only accepts printer ink from a certain manufacturer, and there are all kinds of examples of how architectures used to control us and we see the same sort of thing on line with what are called dark patterns or to quote from Harry Brignal a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things such as buying, overpriced insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills.

And I think that a big part of the question of the ethics of artificial intelligence in analytics, comes to bear on questions of architectures, of control and design how the things that we build can be used to exercise power and influence in society and that leads to a concept and we'll return to this concept in a few videos from now of design justice, which is an approach to design that is led by marginalized communities, and that aims explicitly the challenge rather than reproduced structural inequalities.

It would include things like right to repair. It would include things like an architecture that helped rather than hindered the homeless. It would include things like replaceable brand name, low, environmental impact, replacements, for things like printer ink, but we we need to be careful. Not to linger on that point too.

And we're gonna hit that. And I want to remember. Now, to remember, then to go beyond design, and that's going to be important, tonsil straight, she has a dislike for two things. The first concerns treating the philosophy of technology information and data ethics and general, as a purely philosophical and scientific debate which then has no immediate bearing on the things, organizations and individuals do in practice.

And then second seeing ethics by design as a sufficient fix we're going to talk about design, we're going to talk about and we have talked about the design of AI systems and the design of data gathering systems. And the like but we need to talk about the rest as well.

And that's a big part of the motivation for these three next videos as well. They're going to seem like they're less focused on artificial intelligence and analytics and they are and I'll keep it in the back of my mind. As I talk to bring back, bring this back to those subjects and the relevance of this to those subjects, but we need to get beyond the narrow scope of thinking of designing and even designed justice, and even justice.

When we're talking about the subject, I mean, it's ethics, right? It's not architecture, it's not software design. It's not engineering. It's something else. And that's what we need to capture in this third step in our staircase, on culture. So that's it for this short video to introduce these next three videos and I'll see you while in my time.

I'll see you in just a couple of minutes and your time, I'll see you. Whenever you come back to the next video. I'm Stephen Downs.