Personally I can't see the difference from other pieces of empty rhetorics of "building a better world".
Saying "We need digital citizens, not mere consumers." is not real action. We need it to say "A digital citizen understands software development, therefore within 5 years programming should be part of a regular school curriculum".
"Like and Share to show your support for something everyone supports."
I have a feeling though that at the end of the day, developers that refuse to implement evil features will find themselves replaced.
This problem isn't unique to technology.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" - Upton Sinclair
I have to be critical of your use of the term virtue signalling here. I think it's a term adopted, largely by the right, to stigmatize empathy.
"The other problem with the term is that it assumes your opponents are disingenuous."
I don't think these people are disingenuous, I think they believe it. Wouldn't you agree that if someone believes what they're saying, the term virtue signalling shouldn't apply?
At the same time, I think empathy without action is kind of pointless. I don't know if any of the signatories are actually taking any action, but the Copenhagen Letter website doesn't show action; it shows empathy alone.
If I saw action, I would know that they believe it, and the term wouldn't apply.
I don't feel wrong saying that empathy alone without action is not good enough.
That's a good point. I think I mostly just take issue with the term "virtue signalling." This Adam Smith blog sums it up pretty well I think.
I did not know the scientific definition of the term includes a sacrifice (action?) of some sort. The behaviors I've criticized in the past were of the 'statement without action' variety, so yeah, that was a total misuse of the term on my part.