I was recently invited onto an Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA*) panel discussion with host Rita Mack, and Angus Murray, a Partner and Trade Marks Attorney at Irish Bentley Lawyers, that raised questions about the nature of the digital world and the crisis of embodiment such as:

  1. Are corporations psychopathic?
  2. If corporations are psychopathic, what about the people who run them?
  3. What happens when digital data overrides the life world?

In publicising the talk on their website, the EFA wrote:

By law, corporations are humans, yet they don’t have to embody ‘humanity’. They are allowed to act in their own interest, lack ethics, morals and demonstrate no empathy for human rights. If we evaluate the human criteria for a psychopathic diagnosis, corporations pass with flying colours.

Food for thought: If we think of corporations as psychopaths, should that change how we interact with them?

When humans occupy roles they put their own moral faculty aside – just look at the Stanford Prison Experiment. Our professional moral system is starkly different to our personal moral system. As a result, human rights are muffled in the process of professional embodiment.

Food for thought: Should corporations be held to the same statute of laws as humans?

Our economy is based on continual growth on a finite planet. Digital data enables corporations to grow, and as they do, manipulate the life world. We’re lost in a virtual world of artificial intelligence and algorithms.

Food for thought: How do we recapture a link between the life world and corporations?

Enjoy the discussion. I know I did.

*Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. (EFA) is a non-profit national organisation that has been promoting and protecting digital rights (civil liberties) in Australia since it was established in January 1994.

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