Future technologies, dystopic futures and the precautionary principle

Ethics and Information Technology 7 (3):121-126 (2005)

Authors
Steve Clarke
Charles Sturt University
Abstract
It is sometimes suggested that new research in such areas as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and genetic engineering should be halted or otherwise restricted because of concerns about possible catastrophic scenarios. Proponents of such restrictions typically invoke the precautionary principle, understood as a tool of policy formulation, as part of their case. Here I examine the application of the precautionary principle to possible catastrophic scenarios. I argue, along with Sunstein (Risk and Reason: Safety, Law and the Environment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2002) and Manson (Environmental Ethics, 24: 263–274, 2002), that variants of the precautionary principle that appear strong enough to support significant restrictions on future technologies actually lead to contradictory policy recommendations. Weaker versions of the precautionary principle, which do not have this feature, do not appear strong enough to support restrictions on future technologies.
Keywords catastrophe  cost–benefit analysis  grey goo problem  nanotechnology  precautionary principle
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Reprint years 2006
DOI 10.1007/s10676-006-0007-1
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References found in this work BETA

Formulating the Precautionary Principle.Neil A. Manson - 2002 - Environmental Ethics 24 (3):263-274.
Engines of Creation.Eric Drexler - 1986 - Fourth Estate.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Precautionary Principle and the Dilemma Objection.Daniel Steel - 2013 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 16 (3):321-340.
Ethics, Technology Development and Uncertainty: An Outline for Any Future Ethics of Technology.Paul Sollie - 2007 - Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 5 (4):293-306.

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