At the intersection between technology and ethics are two practical topics explored on this site: (1) How new technologies are regulated and litigated, and (2) how new technology changes the practice of law. The news is full of speculation about reproductive technologies, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, privacy and encryption, and an assortment of other cutting-edge research that may change the way we think about rights and crimes.

If you researched David McCormick, or know me personally, you’ll know that I have been a stage combat choreographer for about 15 years. I also teach a martial art called Bartitsu, the fighting style of Sherlock Holmes. (See sidebar)

However, I’m pursuing a career change to an avenue of inquiry I’ve been interested in for years: the rapid pace of technological advancement and its impact on our culture. I’m particularly interested in the intersection between artificial intelligence and ethics. This field is called Machine Ethics.

There are many questions to consider, among them:

  • What regulations should be in place for self-driving (autonomous) vehicles and how will insurance claims proceed?
  • How can one prove that an algorithm discriminated against an individual leading to a Charter violation?
  • Will automation soon cause mass technological unemployment, and should we reconsider the foundations of our economy?
  • Should autonomous drones (not remote-controlled ones) be permitted to kill humans in a war? What is the moral difference between a heat-seeking missile or a depth charge at sea and a robot who can positively discern an enemy vehicle?
  • If software generates a piece of writing or art, does it really make sense that the programmer hold the copyright over the end product?
  • Can an algorithm replace a lawyer or judge? Is that a worthwhile goal?
  • What is the threshold for an artificial intelligence or robot to have any rights?

I’m not an artificial intelligence programmer, though I continue to learn as much as I can. Many experts who speak out about the dangers or implications of A.I. are embroiled in the computer science and software, and can see where their work may lead.

I am currently approaching the issues from the opposite side, by beginning with a Paralegal certification and working with the laws and regulations that will either permit or restrain companies and individuals who create disruptive technologies.

Other disruptive technologies that I cover in this blog include:

  • Biotechnology: editing one’s own genes, selecting the genes of one’s children, ownership of biological samples, patenting life forms, artificial life;
  • Internet law, privacy and encryption: government surveillance, Freedom of Information, cyberbullying and online threats, online defamation;
  • Private and commercial use of remote-controlled drones, including drone racing: regulated airspace, regulation of pilots, destroying a drone as an act of terrorism, drones operating out of line of sight (VR operation);
  • Many other unforseen developments in technology may influence our moral intuitions and our laws.

I’ve decided to start this blog to reply to news stories that interest me and try my hand at solving some of these contemporary issues.