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How Confucian Harmony Can Help Us Deal with Echo Chambers

This article received an honourable mention in the graduate category of the 2023 National Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics

Written by Kyle van Oosterum, University of Oxford student

Section 1 – Introduction

Many of us are part of or aware of the existence of widespread echo chambers on social media. Echo chambers seem concerning because their members are led to believe bizarre things and disagree viciously with others. For example, some people genuinely believe the Earth is flat. Others disagree about basic political reality as we saw with those who stormed the U.S. Capital on January 6th 2021 and, more recently, the Brazilian congress. A great deal of this may be attributable to the way social media algorithmically sorts us into echo chambers. However, this sorting is partly so effective because we have not become disposed to exit echo chambers or deal well with the individuals who inhabit them. Even if we change these algorithms, we may also need to change our dispositions to better deal with these individuals. Continue reading

Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: What, if Anything, is Wrong About Algorithmic Administration?

This essay received an honourable mention in the undergraduate category.

Written by University of Oxford student, Angelo Ryu.

 

Introduction

 The scope of modern administration is vast. We expect the state to perform an ever-increasing number of tasks, including the provision of services and the regulation of economic activity. This requires the state to make a large number of decisions in a wide array of areas. Inevitably, the scale and complexity of such decisions stretch the capacity of good governance.

In response, policymakers have begun to implement systems capable of automated decision making. For example, certain jurisdictions within the United States use an automated system to advise on criminal sentences. Australia uses an automated system for parts of its welfare program.

Such systems, it is said, will help address the costs of modern administration. It is plausibly argued that automation will lead to quicker, efficient, and more consistent decisions – that it will ward off a return to the days of Dickens’ Bleak House. Continue reading

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