An Australian philosopher and educator warned the public in a forum Thursday about the dangers of surveillance technology, particularly its impact on trust among people.
John Weckert, who has done studies on trust in an online environment, said that there “must be limits on monitoring in order for trust to exist.”
Trust allows people to act autonomously and is “good for one’s self-esteem,” Weckert said in the forum held at the University of Santo Tomas in celebration of the 20th year encyclical of Pope John Paul II’s “Fides et Ratio.”
A trusted person is more likely to develop virtues than a distrusted one, he said.
“If you keep your workforce under surveillance, you’re not helping them develop good habits,” Weckert added, addressing the audience mostly composed of students and religious people.
He said that while monitoring the workplace is important to ensure security, it limits the space for autonomy and trust.
“People who do not trust one another will end up cooperating only under a system of formal rules and regulations,” Weckert said.
He also noted that surveillance technology such as camera and wireless sensors “can be used unfairly.”
He also said facial recognition tools are “dangerous,” because these are “not 100 percent accurate.”
Weckert, a professor emeritus at the Charles Sturt University, also warned the public about the danger of algorithms.
In computer technology, an algorithm is a set of instructions designed to perform specific tasks. Search engines such as Google use algorithms to display the most relevant results for specific queries.
“Most people don’t know what’s going on inside them since these are complicated for an average person,” Weckert said in the forum organized by the UST Ecclesiastical Faculties and Center for Religious Studies and Ethics.