Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ethics and Technology – Part 2

Yesterday I shared thoughts of others regarding how fast our technology is advancing and how we what we can do is rapidly outpacing our reason. Imagine the unmanning of war for example – if war is reduced to a video game then what is the real price? Death is one of the main deterrents of war! In addition consider the message you are sending to the people you are attacking – you could be saying that you do not even rate me sending real people. 

I was talking to a friend earlier and he shared this story with me – a true story

A woman kill her husband and was convicted of manslaughter – she got 8.5 years. A man robbed a bank and got over 100 years! 

Also consider this – Rev. Dr. ML King was assassinated for his message of we in the US should live up to our governing documents yet we have men that still and exploit people for millions and billions who walk the street free and some who are even rewarded for this parasitic behavior! 

Have you considered the message this is sending? 

So what does all of this have to do with technology? To the naked eye it would seem nothing and this is far from the truth. If you work in the field of information technology you must hold yourself to a high level of ethics because often you are entrusted with the information that could make or break a business, give a competitor an edge, or even put your very country at risk. You must hold yourself as a result of the level of trust you engender just from your job to a higher level of behavior than the average person.


What are ethics?

What are ethics? My ethics are the rules or standards governing the conduct by which I live my life and make all my decisions. One of the best ways of thinking about ethics is to take a quick look at what you believe and then think about how you would react when those beliefs are challenged. 

Your ethics govern your thought process so that when a problem arises or you need to try and work your way through a situation your solution is based on your ethics. So exactly where do these comes from? 

What are ethics? Where do they come from? Ethics are not born in a vacuum. Ethics are more like a jigsaw puzzle that is thrown together over time, that when complete makes up who you are and what you believe. From our earliest days of life, we start to learn from those around us. These learned behaviors add to the traits that we are already born with and help to shape us into the person we will become. As part of this learning process, we develop what will become our norms. 

Norms are our everyday way of looking at how the world around us works and helps us to understand our place in the world. Norms also govern how we react to different situations and problems that arise around us. These are our ethics; the things we learn as we grow that govern the rest of our lives. 

What are ethics? Why is having the right ethics so important? Ethics are important for a number of reasons. First, ethics are important because they give us a baseline for understanding the concepts of right and wrong. Ethics help us to have a ready understanding of how to react to a certain situation long before that situation happens. 

There are situational ethics whereby we react as the situation dictates but our reaction is due to our built-in value system that tells us what to do, not the situation itself. 

The major problem with having situational ethics is that they change with the situation. Having a standard of ethics that governs us each day of our lives means we always know how we are to live no matter what. There is no second-guessing and no changing your ethics according to what you feel your ethics are at the moment. 

Second, ethics are important because they act as our mediator when dealing or coming into contact with other people. If we have the wrong sense of ethics we will react to people in a negative manner. But if our ethics are built on the truth, as found in the Word of God, we will see people for who they are as children of God and we will learn to love them just as God loves them. 

Third, ethics are important because we pass them onto others. We have the ability to show others the correct way to act and behave by remaining ethical in the way we live, regardless of whether it involves our personal or business life. 

What are ethics? Some final thoughts -- I have also learned over the years that ethics help us to remain on stable ground in an ever-changing world and that a person’s ethics can be changed. Mine were changed when I came to know the God personally. In fact, in life, I think there is a process we go through where we search for a set of values that offer the truth in order to better guide our lives. This search can and always will center on the Bible which was written by God as our standard of ethics by which we live our lives. 

At the heart of ethics are the integrity and values of the individual. If you can change the values and increase the integrity of the individual, you will change their ethics. This is what the Christian life is about: showing others the ethics we stand for and letting them know how they can turn from living by their own situational ethics to living according to the truth. 

Lecture 42: Ethics - Richard Buckland UNSW

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