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Luciano Floridi on “The Value of Uncertainty” [Seminar]

10 Mar 2015

OII Professor Luciano Floridi discusses the value of uncertainty at the University College Dublin Quinn School of Business. He first conveys his interpretation of the main phases of societal development, from prehistory to hyperhistory: prehistory lacks ICTs and therefore a means of recording the present for the future; history has ICTs that are controlled primarily by the state, the principal agent of information; hyperhistory deals with multi-agent systems (e.g. EU, IMF, WTO) unconstrained by any particular force. Floridi then explains the idea of uncertainty, which he believes constitutes the main source of power in hyperhistory. If, he relates, information today is composed of both a question and an answer, then uncertainty occurs when one has only the former, but not the latter. According to Floridi, instead of information, whatever controls uncertainty controls power in mature information societies. He then reflects on which norms should govern today’s multi-agent systems to best address societal challenges through proposing that such systems promote the values of justice and tolerance. If one hypothesises that justice delivers tolerance, Floridi then contends that modifying Rawls’ veil of ignorance so that “a pinch of” uncertainty replaces ignorance will result in justice, as increasing information likely results in a decrease of both norms. Floridi cites as proof how religious tolerance has increased, not decreased with the advent of communication technology and, for this reason, advocates for the ‘right to be forgotten’.