Technology, the subject of this issue, means change. And change is often good and bad—more of the former, one hopes, than the latter.
Yale Medicine Magazine (YMM) used to receive physical correspondence from readers, for example. That correspondence would be printed on this page. Later, physical correspondence was replaced by emails. More recently still, physical correspondence has almost entirely disappeared, which might be considered bad. That correspondence still occurs, though—in real time, via social media. It includes many more and varied voices than in the past, which is good ... but almost none of that dialogue is suitable for print (definitely bad).
Writers, thinkers, and scientists have been considering the ethical ramifications of technological advances for years. At least as far back as Plato’s Ring of Gyges myth, thinkers were experimenting with hypothetical scenarios, testing out likely human responses should some device change the terms on which one navigates society’s mores.
YMM’s “Letters to the Editor” page has become a disused venue for alumni, faculty, and students to share perspectives on past issues and articles at the same time that society has been wrestling with how to evaluate and process information. Few fields have felt the impact of that crisis of confidence in authority more acutely than science, which has been subjected to fallacious questions about the efficacy of vaccinations, climate change, and even the significance of correlations between gun use and violence produced by guns.
As technology advances, it’s important to consider its ramifications, something at which doctors and scientists are adept. The medical profession is one of the few that abide by an ethical oath—to “do no harm.” It’s also important to communicate those changes, once weighed, to the lay audience. I’m proud to play a small ancillary role in facilitating that communication, both in print and online, via social media.
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