Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 201–210 | Cite as

Technological unemployment and human disenhancement

  • Michele Loi
Original Paper


This paper discusses the concept of “human disenhancement”, i.e. the worsening of human individual abilities and expectations through technology. The goal is provoking ethical reflection on technological innovation outside the biomedical realm, in particular the substitution of human work with computer-driven automation. According to some widely accepted economic theories, automatization and computerization are responsible for the disappearance of many middle-class jobs. I argue that, if that is the case, a technological innovation can be a cause of “human disenhancement”, globally, and all things considered, even when the local and immediate effect of that technology is to increase the demand of more sophisticated human skills than the ones they substitute. The conclusion is that current innovations in the ICT sector are objectionable from a moral point of view, because they disenhance more people than they enhance.


Machine Intelligence Artificial Intelligence Technological unemployment Biomedical enhancement Social justice Race between education and technology ICT Information technology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Estudos HumanísticosUniversidade do MinhoBragaPortugal

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