Conscience in the Digital Age Featured

Mustafa Ashour

Digitization has invaded modern man's life and has the potential to reinvent human life, as the number of smartphone users in 2023 CE has climbed to more than 6.8 billion people or 89% of the Earth's population. Smartphones account for 95.8% of Internet users, while the overall number of social media users is 4.74 billion, or 59.3% of the population.

The increased use of digitalization has been linked to the growth of cybercrime. By 2025, the annual cost of the damage caused by these crimes might be $10.5 trillion worldwide. If cybercrime were a "state," it would have the third-largest economy in the world. The biggest threat to humanity, according to American billionaire "Warren Buffett," is cybercrime. For instance, (1) Ransomware damages cost $20 billion in 2021 CE, according to estimates.

Here, fundamental issues concerning the link between ethics and digitalization arise. Is it possible to foster conscientious awareness in the digital space, thereby preventing the epidemic of cybercrime, or is digitization an arena devoid of the power of conscience and its prick because it is a space formed in the shadows of modernity and secularization, with no room for the unseen in its structure and interactions?

Wasteful instinct

Conscience is the voice of Allah in man, the instinct that distinguishes between good and evil, adherence to the standards of right and wrong, and self-vigilance that does not stop blaming deviation or error.

History confirms that with the processes of modernization and secularization during the last three centuries, the role of religion in the Western world declined, and a situation described as "de-sanctification" emerged. Faith was absent, and the moral standards set by religion were transgressed, under the pretext of "the death of God." Here, the power of control, compulsion and punishment moved away from religion, towards society and what society imposes in terms of law and punishment, to achieve harmony and discipline within it. Therefore, conscience has become the voice of society, not the voice of religion.

This major shift had a huge human cost. The internal self-discipline that used to control morals has been absent. It was a reason for some to get away and do whatever they wanted, as long as they were safe from the law. Perhaps this explains the presence of more than a billion surveillance cameras in the world in 2021 CE, 54% of which are in China, meaning that there is one camera for every three Chinese. This means that technology has become the perfect alternative to conscience. The waves of atheism and secularization, and the vast and expanding digital space, tempt some of those who hide behind screens with pseudonyms and fake accounts, to obey their evil impulses.

Online ethics

The ethics of the internet "Privacy" is one of the qualities of digital, and it is an area where many people hide to access and blackmail others. Furthermore, providing information that dispels privacy clouds makes a person an easy target for any extortion process and tempts some to hunt down those with exposed privacy, especially since the Internet has a strong, almost unforgettable memory, and is characterized by an incredible information retrieval ability, and the legal and legislative limits to protect privacy are less advanced than the escalation of the crime.

Digital "allows people to say and do things in cyberspace that they wouldn't typically say or do in the actual world face-to-face". Because there is no direct sensory contact between individuals, the impact of abusive acts on the offender is often underestimated, which encourages him to repeat and lose a sense of remorse or anguish as a result of viewing his outrageous behaviour. The absence of fear and responsibility leads to recidivism.

However, the pressure of cybercrime was a motive to search for a moral space for digitization, which restricts its whims and desires. Discussions have emerged about the necessity of ethics in the digital space, but they were closer to human development advice aimed at improving behavior away from any religious influences, under the pretext of the necessity of "technology neutrality". Thus, advocates of the so-called digital ethics contented themselves with creating an awareness of how to use the digital medium to improve life, or talking about "digital ethics" given that the legal structure could not keep pace with digital developments. In front of that gap crime thrives.

But the presence of conscience and self-censorship in the digital age requires that the individual possess an internal standard for determining right and wrong, which comes from outside the human realm. Normative norms that come from another space, which is the religion that defines what is right and wrong, good and bad, shared by the largest possible number of people so that man becomes a censor of himself before any authoritarian control from outside.

Despite this urgent need for religion in building conscience, to curb rebelliousness and mutations of human evil, the majority of the visions circulating in Western society do not pay attention to the role of religion in building conscience, and advise - as an alternative - to teach digital ethics from childhood and in the early educational stages, and develop them with Educational rise, so that ethics becomes inherent to digital, but they forget that conscience cannot detect its existence through magnetic resonance imaging, as it is not a network of wires, but something immaterial, as it is "a memory from within that directs man, and an internal feeling of right and wrong, virtue and vice." written in our hearts since our creation.” That is, it is the sound of common sense.

Modern facts demonstrate that materialism is not the most reasonable way to interact with the world, and especially with technology. Nor is the mind alone capable of instilling self-censorship in human behaviour. Deviant programmers that engage in electronic blackmail and fraud are among the most bright and knowledgeable individuals, but their morals are low, and their consciences are idle and cancelled. One indication of firm conviction in the invisible is conscience. When a person with a conscience hides, he is aware that unseen powers are observing him externally and inwardly, and nothing of his intention or action is hidden from those unseen powers.

A similarity can be found between digital tyranny and pharaonic tyranny, in the Almighty’s saying in Surat Al-Fajr: "And [with] Pharaoh, owner of the stakes? –(10) [All of] whom oppressed within the lands(11) And increased therein the corruption.(12) So your Lord poured upon them a scourge of punishment.(13)"

 So, what does a person expect to gain from obscuring the presence of God, striking the foundations of belief, confusing them, and weakening their influence and presence in life? Here we recall the saying of Christ, peace be upon him: “You will know them by their fruits. Do you reap grapes from thistles or figs from thorns?”


  1. Ransomware: A type of malware that is designed to block access to files, until a sum of money is paid.

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