14 Sep
  • By Eelco Lodewijks
  • / Blog


We all know that new technologies are literally sprung on us daily, and most are both re-inventing the way we do things and manifesting in previously uncharted space.  Another problem with such ground-breaking technologies, is that we cannot anticipate all their future uses and subsequent abuses.  Furthermore, while controversial technologies such as Artificially Intelligent Robots, Genetically Modified foods and Cloning are evolving more slowly, it is not possible to anticipate all future ethical dilemmas. 

Consequently, we are faced with a situation where technology is changing so rapidly that rules, regulations and/or laws cannot be conceptualised, formulated and/or legislated in advance, or in time.  What I am suggesting is that this new era will be marked by an absence of adequate timeous regulation.  Therefore, self-regulation and self-control at the individual level, becomes essential.  The “ethics” buck must stop at the level of the individual, especially at work.

For example, Facebook launched a completely new service that had no legislation governing its behaviour, because nothing like it ever existed before.  Suddenly everyone discovered that Facebook had drifted off the straight and narrow, and it was being used for unanticipated and unintended mischief, including disinformation.  Therefore, the law had to step in, and play catch up with endless consequences.

Now ask yourself “what went wrong”?  I like these quotes paraphrased from James Faust:

“ The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments”        

… or, more to the point, …    

” Our increased reliance on laws to regulate human behaviour is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become”    

… what it all boils down to is that …   

“ Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behaviour. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defence for a civilized society”. 

While compliance with the law is part of ethics, ethical conduct far transcends it, since laws prohibit only the most serious forms of harm and attach civil or criminal penalties to those.  It is not enough to say that a company complies with the law, if its managers are “only” bound by those legal constraints and “only” observe a minimal set of ethical values.  For example: In most professions, people subscribe to the Hippocratic Oath, Banker’s Oath, or similar professional codes of conduct, but then frequently ignore these as they pursue their own agendas. 

Now imagine a wonderful world where “everyone” is behaving ethically, voluntarily.  We would need no laws.  Accordingly, I challenge every one of you to embrace this ideal immediately.  Strive to make “the use of conscience” your new norm.  Put ethics and respect the rights of others, and our fragile planet, ahead of personal gain and profit.  Embrace the idea that you cannot be half honest.  Abide by the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law. 

Please comment or ask questions.  We would love to hear from you.

My book Technology Tsunami Alert will be launched mid-2020.  Please also read the Gold/Silver and Investment chapters on my EelcoGold website.