Expanding moral circle via reciprocity is a win-win way to guide society into flourishing future.

Is the Age of Connectedness now? Illustration: Zoe Van Dijk

Business, Government

Why in the age when a robot has a citizenship, should people be exploited or experience famine? This is potentially because of geopolitical, historical and economic reasons. Indeed, research show that we reciprocate less with others who are physically or socio-economically far from us.

build economic and political models provide limited space for ethical discussions between organisations about choices for the society.This is potentially because main decision-makers, e.g., business and government leaders, focus on reputation and status. These are important goals, but it should not be the priority in the alignment problem in the dialogue.

The focus should be more on problems around reciprocity: how to cooperate better (it’s difficult!), future of education, freeing time by adopting automation strategically, or mental health in digital world. These are the points not only for business or government leader dialogue, but for all of us to discuss.

Open exchange of experiences and ideas can be mighty in motivating a positive global change.

The leaders tend to employ competition as decision-making model affecting thousands or even millions of lives. Many start to realise that competition is an unstable strategy, leading to questionable practices that doesn’t align with the principles of universal human rights.

Until recently, the only worry of many business models was income. However, this attitude is outdated and the consequences of continuing to embrace it are dreadful.

Compete for what?

Individuals and groups have overarching goals (i.e., incentives), such as resource consumption. This boils down to limited resource problem and the need to compete. In today’s economy of abundance, we might still assume that competition is productive (i.e., see below zero-sum games). This is can be a great strategy for individuals, but for large complex organizations such as nations, it is no longer sustainable.

People have limited ability to take into account all stakeholders that might be affected by decisions, such as long-term consequences. Only a minority of individuals, businesses and governments make decisions focusing on bringing the most global good.

With the advances in ethics of technology research, we have not yet developed moral consideration at global scale. Additionally, the technological and economic competition makes polarisation a norm and enabling microtargeting campaigns by exploiting human bias of people to prefer information from trsuted sources (see filter bubbles and echo chamber).

How fair for a random person in the world to live in today’s competitive economy?

We are scared of letting go of the resource in abundance to share with the other who lucks it. Photo by LIM ENG on Unsplash

Global good

Competition as zero-sum game among individuals and organisations is prevalent, even thought the problems associated with this startegy, and how to improve them are discussed for years. In some work environments, it is a norm to cherish competitive (“workaholic”) mindset or conceal information from others. However, there is a wealth of evidence suggesting positive outcomes of cooperation and reciprocity.

Understanding the world complexity and the challenges it faces is difficult, as is right emotional response to these challenges.

The problem of global good is complex as it requires incorporating incentives and behaviours of several billions (!) of people as individuals and as part of dynamic groups. Even thought the research on the benefits of cooperation and collectives is expanding (e.g, see Cognition, Collectives, and Human Culture workshop), the real-world application of this research is slow.

Expanding moral circle

We have cognitive constraints imposed on us in our ability to have a comprehensive relationships with, or even just a consideration of several billion people currently alive. One way of improving cooperation is to trick our cognitive constraints by expanding our moral circle. Think, for example, about people working at your electricity provider, or your local grocery shop — they all improve your personal wellbeing. What about coffee farmers from Costa Rica?

Expansion of moral circle towards “All Things” is in conflict with another powerful force that pushes towards “Self” and “Family”. Extracted from (Graham et. al, 2017)

There might be a simple solution to this incentives problem — reciprocity. Whilst reaching personal goals is important, we might underweight our capacity to affect on other people. Today’s world is an dynamic system, full of social complex interactions with our everyday activity embedded in it. We need to adapt accordingly.

Psychology of Information. Biased by Alina Gutoreva (Psych@Warwick)

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