Aral Balkan

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Whither ethics, New Scientist?

New Scientist mmagazine on the tray table of my seat

New Scientist: what's science sans ethics?

I’m on a flight from Cork to London to speak at Nesta’s FutureFest this weekend and I’m reading New Scientist. A full-spread ad for their conference in September, New Scientist Live catches my eye. Hmm, might be interesting. And then I see the list of sponsors. Wow.

When attempting to explain why a privacy or human rights conference having Google (Alphabet, Inc.) or Facebook, Inc., as sponsors is problematic, I often use the analogy that no one would trust a healthcare conference spnsored by Philip Morris or a conference on the environment sponsored by Exxon Mobil. Well, guess what?

New Scientist’s “Earth Zone Sponsor” for their conference is (drumroll) Shell.

Detail of New Scientist's sponsors for their New Scientist Live conference: Earth Zone Sponsor: Shell, Technology Zone Sponsor: BAE Systems.

Greenwashing. (And whatever it is you call legimitising weapons manufacturers.)

Take a bow, New Scientist. I thought we lacked ethics in the technology world, but you are exploring new frontiers in corruption. How do the folks who work at New Scientist sleep at night knowing that their publication is using whatever legitimacy it has in the field of science to greenwash a petrolium company?

And it doesn’t stop there.

Their “technology zone sponsor” is BAE systems. You know, the company that makes technology that kills people.

Seriously, New Scientist, it’s time you took a long, hard look at the ethics of your choices.