Takeaways from the sharing session of Indonesia Postgraduate Network Seminar Series (IPN) Forum on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, delivered by Hendar Putranto [Ph.D. Candidate in Communication Science, Universitas Indonesia].
The Forum was initially and strategically maintained by Jonathan P Tehusijarana, Ph. D. candidate in History, The University of Melbourne. His research highlights the role of militarised student organizations in the development of post-independence Indonesia.
The opening question:
Is ethics merely passing judgment towards others regarding their so-called observable behavior? In some sense, yes, because, by passing judgment, ethicists clear the fog of ignorance and the veil of concomitant worries and pressing concerns of fellow human beings. Therefore, we need to address and redefine the principles of ethics in the digital milieu, or, in short, DCE–Digital Communication Ethics.
Are we ready yet?
Here’s the short manifesto of the explication process on the DCE:
Why Redefine? Why not use the old frameworks of Macro-ethics (virtue, deontology, consequentialism)?
1) Zeitgeist: digital era, ICT, disruption, etc.
2) Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures: do we have to choose between awareness/mindfulness, ethics, or positive law? See GDPR in Europe; also Indonesia’s law of Pelindungan Data Pribadi (PDP) ratified on Sept. 20, 2022. This law is similar to GDPR in the European Union. We are still waiting for its implementations and derivative regulations.
3) Old wine in a new bottle: an existing concept or institution offered as though it were a new one. Could it be the case?
4) Digital Literacy Movement: necessary yes, but is it enough (sufficient)? >> the institutionalization of ethics and the diversity of codes of conduct
5) Digital Ethics is not identical to Communication Ethics: they are similar but different
6) Moral dilemma faced by many academics in (new) Higher Education landscape & challenges >> we need to hold on to something (more) solid in order to move forward with confidence
7) Are you, Hendar, the only one thinking about this?
a) Prof. Francisco Budi Hardiman in his latest book Aku Klik maka Aku Ada. Manusia dalam Revolusi Digital (Yogyakarta: Penerbit Kanisius, 2021) and was later emphasized in his Professoral Inauguration Speech on Dec. 8, 2021, at UPH. He said that there are three pressing concerns and tasks for Philosophy today, namely (i) to reveal the ambivalence of digital communications; (ii) to continue the ideology critique and rational reflection; and (iii) to provide a systematic and meaningful account of digital communication ethics.
[read some journalistic reportage on his speech here, https://www.kompas.id/baca/polhuk/2021/12/08/hoaks-ancam-demokrasi-filsafat-komunikasi-digital-bisa-menyelamatkan and here, https://www.kalderanews.com/2021/12/prof-dr-fransisco-budi-hardiman-inilah-3-tugas-filsafat-di-era-komunikasi-digital/]
b) Kominfo Republik Indonesia: https://aptika.kominfo.go.id/2021/01/empat-pilar-literasi-untuk-dukung-transformasi-digital/
c) https://www.techuk.org/shaping-policy/digital-ethics.html: see the definition of digital ethics as follows, “In an increasingly digital world, it’s important that technology is used to improve and enhance the quality of people’s everyday lives. Embedding ethical principles, such as transparency, accountability, and explainability, into the creation of products, tools and services is essential for building public trust and confidence in technology. techUK focuses on resolving some of the most difficult ethical challenges, to ensure tech works for people and responsible innovation can flourish.”
d) https://www.oecd.org/science/we-need-to-talk-about-digital-ethics.htm (de Broglie, C., 2016)
Charlotte de Broglie [CEO and Founder, For the Future]
de Broglie says that “There is an intrinsic duality to digital technology. Like the god Janus…It can result in the abuse of the powers of mass surveillance, and threaten democracies…But, equally, it also help liberate oppressed peoples. Digital technology is not neutral. Rather, it enshrines a vision and reflects a worldview…Indeed, technology does not exist outside reality, and that has never been more true than today. As a result, if we underestimate the reach of technology, we could wake up one day in a worldwide technocracy. Yet, and despite this threat, the education of digital thinkers and creators, mathematicians, engineers, computer scientists and so on rarely addresses the ethical issues facing these digital actors, nor their responsibilities. Instead, they are presented with a utilitarian and short-term vision of the digital domain that takes little account of the broader social, economic and cultural background against which digital innovation is happening nor of its impacts. The end result is super-specialist technocrats working in isolation on the research and the development of their applications.”
e) and many many others (citations needed)
I hope this short explication works as a repertoire for many more serious studies on DCE in the future.