Emergent Technologies And Thumb Scanning Out Of Work

Throughout this quarter we’ve been working on constructing our own ethical framework to better guide us through complex problems. I encountered an ethical dilemma I can’t seem to shake while living in China. I taught at a for profit school called Happy Goal Kids. It felt like working at the McDonald’s of English schools in Shanghai. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Throughout my time at Happy Goal my privacy was challenged quite often. I recall one point most specifically, a thumb scanner to get into work. I was required to scan in, and out, each time I left the facility. It felt like quite a risk to me. This company, who I already didn’t trust had the ability to know my whereabouts within their building. It felt strange.

China is even more prevalent in the news today in regards to it’s treatment towards Uighur people in the Xinjiang region. A new technology is being used against a group of people, for reasons that just don’t line up.

Something I wanted to pose to my ethics class at AC4D was their tolerance to low and high risk situations in emergent technologies. While China is using facial recognition to track Uighur people, we are logging into our phones, retinal scanning into schools, and thumb scanning ourselves out of work. Our physical attributes are being used as identifying factors. The things we are being asked to opt into may pose more risk than we’re able to recognize at this point in time.

I gave each member of the class the below strips of paper
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I then asked people to write down where they would feel comfortable using these factors of identification. Whether it be civic, personal, or professional use. From there I asked the class to get up and place where they felt each piece fell on a low-risk high-risk axis.