Almost overnight, the Manhattan Project transformed ethical decision making from a purely moral concern into one that is essential for human survival. Recent technological advances, including genetic engineering, AI, and cyber-technology, reinforce that imperative. This talk explores how to accelerate our ethical progress and thereby increase our odds of not only surviving, but also thriving. It uses several personal lessons that I learned the hard way. In 1976, when confronted with a decision that NSA told me could cause “grave harm to national security,” I thought I made my decision ethically, but later realized I had fooled myself and how easily we all can make that mistake. The talk then explores several other lessons including how to use the evolution of ethical standards over time to accelerate that process.
Martin E. Hellman, Cybersecurity, Nuclear Security, Alan Turing, and Illogical Logic, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60, No. 12, pp. 52-59, December 2017. This paper can be downloaded as a PDF and is a written version of my ACM Turing Lecture (video of full lecture). While my talk at Lindau will be different, some of the material in this paper will be included.