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AlexMikhalev
AlexMikhalev

Posted on • Originally published at alexmikhalev.Medium on

Ethics of creativity: is it the same for scientists, engineers or other creative professions?


Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

There are common assumptions about ethics for scientists:

that bioscientists, working on even harmless virus, will put an effort of containing the virus, even if it’s as benign as forcing people to sneeze at 8 a.m. will think about consequences of the action releasing such virus into the public: all drivers on motorway sneezing together will cause dire consequences.

That physicists or radiologists working on new radioactive materials or tracing methods will refrain from spreading radioactive materials in front of their labs to see how much glow the passer-by get.

When you are creating a computer virus in the software industry, you can be called a hero, hacker or criminal depending on what your virus does and if it damages or repairs infrastructure (virus patching vulnerable DNS server), demand ransom or destroy people’s valuables.

But the ethics rules seem to work differently for content creators of numerous social networks.

When are you creating a movie or cartoon that affects the human brain and destroys the children’s behaviour, how shall a creative person be called?

We know how to trick humans into binge-watching or slot machine pull to refresh for social media through cognitive psychology research and applying it. Even adults can’t resist it, but even children’s cartoon series has a β€œhook” at the end of the episode, and the hook can be for the PG6 or PG10 seriesβ€Šβ€”β€Šthose children who will have strategic parts of their brain developed in the next ten years or more.

The variety of the content affecting our children is very substantial:

  • Noise: from just noise like β€œkids playing toysβ€β€Šβ€”β€Šas a parent, I want them to play with their toys, not watch other people playing with them.
  • Behaviour damage: modern high-quality cartoons like Booba (and Masha & Bear, and Tom&Jerry and Grizly& Lemmings and… and… a large number of video material marked by tag β€œkids” on youtube): I can trace behaviour changes in my 5-year-old son depending on what cartoons he is watching, other parents confirm this observation.
  • outdated archetypes: if you are a parent of a daughter, you may not agree to the archetype introduced by Cindarellaβ€Šβ€”β€Šwhere the role of the good daughter is to do chores, sit and wait for fairy godmother and Prince Charming
  • pure toxic and harmful content, which introduces self-harm and suicidal behaviour

And there are creators and re-posters of such content. Some do it for money, some for fame and some out of ignorance.

But it doesn’t have to be that way:

Ethics is a personal choice of every person, and we can:

  • Make ethical choices personally, building on existing philosophical and religious ethical frameworks, whether from Stoic philosophy or following ten commandments.
  • Think about the consequences of our actionsβ€Šβ€”β€Šlong term and in the lifecycle of your community, your family and yourself
  • we can build not only profitable and lawful but ethical and valuable products and services
  • We can expand and build ethical AI to remind humans about their moral choices and biases.
  • Build intelligent filters AI filters for ourselves and share them with others

So, why are the best in the brightest minds of our data science and engineering community focused on building advanced noise generators like GPT-3?

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