July 16, 2012

Are smartphone apps influencing our humanity?

Posted: July 16, 2012
smartphone
Apps are influencing choices, enhancing motivation and affecting behavior in seemingly positive ways, but at what expense is yet to be determined.
Photo by: Flickr/Highways Agency

With the rise of apps that promote ethical behavior, are we outsourcing our consciences to mobile devices?

In a Future Tense article on Slate, Thomas Seager, senior sustainability scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability and Lincoln Fellow of Ethics and Sustainability at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, speculates on a near future when people’s phones become personal, digital Jiminy Crickets.

Seager and co-author Evan Selinger, associate professor of philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, deliberate the matter of behavior-guiding apps already available for smartphones and tablet computers.

Seager and Selinger describe how such apps are influencing choices, enhancing motivation and affecting behavior in seemingly positive ways, but the consequences are yet to be determined. The benefits of such apps are evident, but the drawbacks remain elusive. "Understanding where diminution begins can help us determine how far behavior-modifying technology should go," conclude the authors.

Future Tense is a collaboration among ASU, the New America Foundation, and Slate magazine that explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy and culture. The article, titled "Digital Jiminy Crickets: Do apps that promote ethical behavior diminish our ability to make just decisions?" can be found at the link below.

Article source:
Slate Magazine


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Alicia Fremling, alicia.fremling@asu.edu
Future Tense