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European Alliance of Initiatives
for Applied Anthroposophy

Computer technology and the question of morality

Engagement with computer technology demands a new consciousness

Dear Friends of ELIANT,

The key concern of ELIANT is to maintain and promote cultural diversity on the basis of human rights: individual freedom, equality before the law and mutuality in the economic use of goods and services. Every step taken, however small, towards realising this idealistic objective, brings us closer to an experience of our human dignity. It was this perspective on organising education and health, caring for the soil and agriculture, managing economic life and supporting new social initiatives that led us to form the alliance in Brussels in 2006. We are very grateful for this inter-disciplinary cooperation and the keen exchange with alliance partners and newsletter subscribers on important current issues.

We have recently become aware of two socially relevant pieces of information:

1. The dramatic decline in the standard of western education
The neuroscientist Michel Desmurget, from the national centre for research in France (CNRS), describes how, according to studies carried out by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), China is leaving the countries of Europe and North America ever further behind. He explains that the dramatic decline in the standard of western education can be explained by the damaging consumption of digital media by children and young people. The Chinese regime has placed strict limits on the access of young people to social media and drastically reduced the amount of time spent with video games. Protection of this kind is also needed in European and western countries! However, we know how hard it was to gain sufficient signatures for our petition calling for age-appropriate digital media education and that it was thanks to all of your efforts that we could reach our target and make it possible for our concerns to be heard. A lot more awareness of this is needed however in the wider population! For even the best of regulations will not help if people don't wish to implement them.

For the last five years ELIANT and ECSWE have been continuously raising awareness for the potential harm to children and young people of excessive media consumption particularly on their creativity and social competences. We have already reported on some of our successful lobbying work in the EU parliament and the Commission. Here are Further details about ECSWE's three year HERMMES-project. Its goal is to enable school leavers to have sovereignty over their use of digital media and be able to decide for themselves how much time to spend using digital tools and for what purpose.
There is a conference on the theme of digital media and its use (or misuse) on 29.4.2023 It is being held in English and Italian and everyone interested is warmly invited to attend.

2. A Moratorium on artificial intelligence (AI) is being called for
Some prominent figures in the AI scene and around a hundred business leaders and researchers have been calling for a moratorium on the development of artificial intelligence in the German weekly news outlet Zeitonline. They see real dangers in AI for humanity and want to guide further developments so that technology serves mankind. It is increasingly recognised that technological developments are racing beyond morality and that every activity – especially that which is complex and highly technical – needs a moral foundation and principles to guide it.

But how can technology and morality come together?
We can see with the escalating conflict in Ukraine how difficult it is to renounce means of power and invest energy not only in a willingness to negotiate but in negotiating capacities. "Preaching morality is easy – justifying morality is hard" said Rudolf Steiner the founder of Waldorf education to the teachers. He defined morality as interest in the other person and above all in the human being beyond all forms of nationalism, skin colour and social classification. It was of great concern of his to give a moral example in the daily interactions with pupils and parents so that they can grow.

The Christian world has now celebrated Easter – the festival of transformation, the development of human dignity and hope.

Warm greetings from the ELIANT team
Michaela Glöckler

Since we have many plans for the coming year, your donations are particularly welcome.