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Unformatted text preview: CIV 402: Engineering Ethics
Chapters Summary Chapter 5: The Social and Value Dimensions of Technology Technology nowadays plays big rule in our life and with it we live an advanced life with lots of facilities. Sometimes we can’t live without those technologies, but what is the main definition of the technology? 5.1 Thinking about Technology and Society Technologies can be defined in 3 different ways: 1‐ Technology is the making and using of the tools; humans make tools to accomplish their goals that they set. These tools can be used in both ways (the right way and the wrong way). Weakness in this definition: some technologies don’t involve tools. For example the organization who built the pyramids considered as a technology even though it’s not a tool. 2‐ Technology is the application of the science to the solutions of practical problems. This means that technology depends on the formulas and the rules of science. It gives important insight into the nature of modern technology. Weakness in this definition: it’s not applicable for all technologies. Most of the inventions during the 17th and 18th century depended on the trial and error method. 3‐ Technology is best understood as a system composed of physical objects and tools. This definition is favoured by many contemporary scholars. It implies that we can’t understand technology without understanding society and they both influence each other. This is the most suitable definition for technology Technology Determinism means that technological development has a time limit and it cannot be controlled by individuals or humans. This is unaccepted because if it’s true then we won’t have responsibility to change the world because whatever we do is useless as long as we can’t change. 5.2 Technology Optimism: The Promise of Technology Technology optimism is the view that states that the effects of the technology on human being are mostly good. This means that technology has improved the quality of our lives. The dramatic improving of technology can take a country from the poverty to become a modern country. For example, you can tell the difference between America before and after the industrial revolution. 1 5.3 Technology Pessimism: The Perils of Technology Technological pessimism is the negative view of the effects of the technology on human life it is not against the technology but it concentrates on the undesirable aspect of technological development. It claims that technology eliminate the human experience and destroy the meaningfulness of what we do. For example, the family used before to gather to have lunch together but because of microwave each member eats separately. 5.4 Computer Technology: Privacy and Social Policy There are 4 types of software privacy: 1. Information Privacy which keeps the individual or organization from gaining information about other individuals or organizations. 2. Physical Privacy which includes protecting the right of individual from physical actions such as unwanted touch or rape 3. Decisional Privacy which is the freedom of an individual or a group to make or express their opinion about political issues or other issues without getting effected by regulations or government or other outside inference. 4. Proprietary Privacy which is the ability to control the use of one’s name or identity. Privacy vs. Social Utility The disadvantages of breaking privacy are: 1‐ Limiting the ability of others to know our privacy. Sometimes we only want some people to know our personal information but not our physician or teacher. 2‐ We need to express our opinions without getting effected by the government. The youth need to think create and do what they think is right and some of the bad governments use the social utility to stop any movement or such a revolution Advantages of breaking privacy 1‐ Suspecting guilty criminals becomes much easier when information is not protected. 2‐ Very useful for bank transactions. 2 How to protect privacy 1. The data system containing personal information should be Public knowledge 2. Personal information should be collected with the aware of the person whom the information collected 3. The information shouldn’t be shared with third party 4. The time information can be stored should be limited 5. Data collected should be collected for its reasons 5.5 Computer Technology: Ownership of Computer Software and Public Policy Should Software Be Protected? There are 3 main arguments when it comes to software protection: 1. Supporting of legal protection 2. Opposing of legal protection 3. “Labour Theory of Ownership” Both, the 1st and the 2nd arguments are utilitarian. The first argument which supports legal protection of software treats computer software as a physical object that is owned by a person. For example, if someone owns a car, it is his right to control its use and to exclude other people from using it if you wish. This argument is based on the ethics of respecting other persons and treatment of software in such a manner promotes the progress of technology. The second argument which opposes legal protection of software states that legal protection will cause (1) an increase prices and (2) a reduction in quality of the software because competition will be limited. This argument also claims that there was more innovation and experimentation when software was free. The third argument which is called “Labour Theory of Ownership” states that un‐owned things in nature can be owned by simply “mixing” them with our labour. For example, if someone clears an un‐owned land and plants crops on it, he has mixed his labour with the land and can claim ownership of it. Most of us would combine the 1st and the 3rd arguments for the following reasons: 1. Innovation is best when innovators know that they can protect their work and can charge for its use. 2. Since people have the right to exclude others from using their own properties, then it reasonable to extend this right to software. 3 How Should Software Be Protected? Computer programs are considered intellectual properties and they are protected by: 1. Copyrights 2. Patents Copyright is used to protect only the expression of an idea and not the idea itself; therefore, it does not cover mathematical algorithms. Patents are used to protect creativity, but not all programs are creative. Since programs do not neatly fit into either of these classifications, it is necessary to use both of them. Which is more effective and feasible depends on the nature of the software. 5.6 Engineering Responsibility in Democratic Deliberation on Technology Policy In democracy, the public is responsible for making the final decision about science and technology. Since the public have difficulty in understand something complex such as technology, it is the engineer’s responsibilities: 1. To alert the public to potential dangers from technology (dangers of a new car design) 2. To inform the public of the issues on both sides (technology may pose dangers, but also has great benefits) 3. To offer advice and guidance on a specific issue These responsibilities are too much for a single engineer to handle and therefore they should fall on the professional engineering societies. 5.7 The Social Embeddedness of Technology The Social Interaction of Technology and Society There is a 2‐way interaction between technology and society; they both influence each other. To better understand this interaction, we have to use a field of study called “Science and Technology Studies” or STS. Instead of the traditional approach, where only the end of the case is considered, STS is an approach where various points throughout the case, which raise ethical issues, are identified. There this approach provides more than one correct way to resolve an ethical issue. Science and Technology Studies: Opening the Black Box of Technology Technologies can be designed to (1) stress sustainability, (2) use renewable resources and (3) minimize pollution. Therefore, technology can be used to promote human community. Also, technology does not destroy important values such as our relationship with the natural world, but it will change the form in which these activities take place. 4 5.8 How Shall We Design? Ethical Issues in Design STS researches have focused on design as a crucial stage of development in which value issues can arise whether decisions are made that affect society or social factors have affected the course design. There is no single correct way to resolve an ethical issue rose during the design phase of a project, although there are probably some solutions that are not necessarily acceptable. Design for the Environment and for Human Community The advance of technology does not necessarily destroy values that we consider of great importance, such as a relationship to the natural world and focused human activities, it does, however, change the forms and contexts in which these activities take place. Such thought can lead to creative designs and a more humanly satisfying life. 5.9 Conclusion: Engineering as Social Experimentation Finally, we conclude that: 1. Engineers should recognize that technology is embedded in a social network as both cause and effect. 2. Technology has both conferred great goods on humankind and raised problems and issues that demand solutions. 3. Engineers, especially engineering societies, have a responsibility to alert the public to the dangers and risks imposed by technology and to inform and sometimes advice the public on policy issues regarding technology. 4. Engineers have a responsibility to design with consideration of the social and value implications of their designs. 5 ...
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This note was uploaded on 01/29/2012 for the course CIVIL 101 taught by Professor Seeds during the Spring '07 term at Abu Dhabi University.
- Spring '07