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See the discussion below. In spite of this, Wiener's three relevant books , , do lay down a powerful foundation, and do use an effective methodology, for today's field of computer and information ethics. His thinking, however, was far ahead of other scholars; and, at the time, many people considered him to be an eccentric scientist who was engaging in flights of fantasy about ethics.
Apparently, no one — not even Wiener himself — recognized the profound importance of his ethics achievements; and nearly two decades would pass before some of the social and ethical impacts of information technology, which Wiener had predicted in the late s, would become obvious to other scholars and to the general public. In The Human Use of Human Beings , Wiener explored some likely effects of information technology upon key human values like life, health, happiness, abilities, knowledge, freedom, security, and opportunities.
The metaphysical ideas and analytical methods that he employed were so powerful and wide-ranging that they could be used effectively for identifying, analyzing and resolving social and ethical problems associated with all kinds of information technology, including, for example, computers and computer networks; radio, television and telephones; news media and journalism; even books and libraries.
In laying down a foundation for information ethics, Wiener developed a cybernetic view of human nature and society, which led him to an ethically suggestive account of the purpose of a human life. These powerful ethical concepts enabled Wiener to analyze information ethics issues of all kinds. Wiener's cybernetic understanding of human nature stressed the physical structure of the human body and the remarkable potential for learning and creativity that human physiology makes possible.
While explaining human intellectual potential, he regularly compared the human body to the physiology of less intelligent creatures like insects:. Given the physiology of human beings, it is possible for them to take in a wide diversity of information from the external world, access information about conditions and events within their own bodies, and process all that information in ways that constitute reasoning, calculating, wondering, deliberating, deciding and many other intellectual activities. Wiener concluded that the purpose of a human life is to flourish as the kind of information-processing organisms that humans naturally are:.
Wiener's account of human nature presupposed a metaphysical view of the universe that considers the world and all the entities within it, including humans, to be combinations of matter-energy and information. Everything in the world is a mixture of both of these, and thinking , according to Wiener, is actually a kind of information processing. Consequently, the brain. According to Wiener's metaphysical view, everything in the universe comes into existence, persists, and then disappears because of the continuous mixing and mingling of information and matter-energy.
Living organisms, including human beings, are actually patterns of information that persist through an ongoing exchange of matter-energy. Thus, he says of human beings,. We are but whirlpools in a river of ever-flowing water. We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves. Wiener , p. The individuality of the body is that of a flame…of a form rather than of a bit of substance.
According to Wiener, for human beings to flourish they must be free to engage in creative and flexible actions and thereby maximize their full potential as intelligent, decision-making beings in charge of their own lives. This is the purpose of a human life. Because people have various levels of talent and possibility, however, one person's achievements will be different from those of others. It is possible, though, to lead a good human life — to flourish — in an indefinitely large number of ways; for example, as a diplomat, scientist, teacher, nurse, doctor, soldier, housewife, midwife, musician, artist, tradesman, artisan, and so on.
He believed that adherence to those principles by a society would maximize a person's ability to flourish through variety and flexibility of human action. Given Wiener's cybernetic account of human nature and society, it follows that people are fundamentally social beings, and that they can reach their full potential only when they are part of a community of similar beings. Society, therefore, is essential to a good human life. For this reason, Wiener explicitly adopted a fourth principle of justice to assure that the first three would not be violated.
If one grants Wiener's account of a good society and of human nature, it follows that a wide diversity of cultures — with different customs, languages, religions, values and practices — could provide a context in which humans can flourish. Sometimes ethical relativists use the existence of different cultures as proof that there is not — and could not be — an underlying ethical foundation for societies all around the globe.
Those principles offer a cross-cultural foundation for ethics , even though they leave room for immense cultural diversity. The one restriction that Wiener would require in any society is that it must provide a context where humans can realize their full potential as sophisticated information-processing agents, making decisions and choices, and thereby taking responsibility for their own lives.
Wiener believed that this is possible only where significant freedom, equality and human compassion prevail. Because Wiener did not think of himself as creating a new branch of ethics, he did not provide metaphilosophical comments about what he was doing while analyzing an information ethics issue or case.
Instead, he plunged directly into his analyses. Consequently, if we want to know about Wiener's method of analysis, we need to observe what he does , rather than look for any metaphilosophical commentary upon his own procedures. When observing Wiener's way of analyzing information ethics issues and trying to resolve them, we find — for example, in The Human Use of Human Beings — that he tries to assimilate new cases by applying already existing, ethically acceptable laws, rules, and practices.
In any given society, there is a network of existing practices, laws, rules and principles that govern human behavior within that society. In this way, he achieved a very effective method for analyzing information ethics issues.
Alison Adam - Wikipedia
Borrowing from Moor's later, and very apt, description of computer ethics methodology Moor , we can describe Wiener's methodology as follows:. Note that this way of doing information ethics does not require the expertise of a trained philosopher although such expertise might prove to be helpful in many situations.
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Any adult who functions successfully in a reasonably just society is likely to be familiar with the existing customs, practices, rules and laws that govern a person's behavior in that society and enable one to tell whether a proposed action or policy would be accepted as ethical. So those who must cope with the introduction of new information technology — whether they are computer professionals, business people, workers, teachers, parents, public-policy makers, or others — can and should engage in information ethics by helping to integrate new information technology into society in an ethically acceptable way.
Information ethics, understood in this very broad sense , is too important to be left only to information professionals or to philosophers. The purview of Wiener's ideas and methods is even broad enough to encompass subfields like journalism ethics, library ethics, and the ethics of bioengineering. It would affect every walk of life, and would be a multi-faceted, on-going process requiring decades of effort.
In , nearly three decades after the publication of Wiener's book Cybernetics , Walter Maner noticed that the ethical questions and problems considered in his Medical Ethics course at Old Dominion University often became more complicated or significantly altered when computers got involved. Sometimes the addition of computers, it seemed to Maner, actually generated wholly new ethics problems that would not have existed if computers had not been invented. At that time, Maner did not know about the computer ethics works of Norbert Wiener. He developed an experimental computer ethics course designed primarily for students in university-level computer science programs.
His course was a success, and students at his university wanted him to teach it regularly. It contained curriculum materials and pedagogical advice for university teachers. It also included a rationale for offering such a course in a university, suggested course descriptions for university catalogs, a list of course objectives, teaching tips, and discussions of topics like privacy and confidentiality, computer crime, computer decisions, technological dependence and professional codes of ethics.
During the early s, Maner's Starter Kit was widely disseminated by Helvetia Press to colleges and universities in America and elsewhere. Meanwhile Maner continued to conduct workshops and teach courses in computer ethics. As a result, a number of scholars, especially philosophers and computer scientists, were introduced to computer ethics because of Maner's trailblazing efforts. While Maner was developing his new computer ethics course in the mid-to-late s, a colleague of his in the Philosophy Department at Old Dominion University, Deborah Johnson, became interested in his proposed new field.
She was especially interested in Maner's view that computers generate wholly new ethical problems, for she did not believe that this was true. As a result, Maner and Johnson began discussing ethics cases that allegedly involved new problems brought about by computers. The resulting Maner-Johnson discussion initiated a fruitful series of comments and publications on the nature and uniqueness of computer ethics — a series of scholarly exchanges that started with Maner and Johnson and later spread to other scholars.
For some example publications, see Johnson , , , ; Maner , , ; Gorniak-Kocikowska ; Tavani , ; Himma ; Floridi and Sanders ; Mather ; and Bynum , By the early s, Johnson had joined the staff of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and had secured a grant to prepare a set of teaching materials — pedagogical modules concerning computer ethics — that turned out to be very successful. She incorporated them into a textbook, Computer Ethics , which was published in Johnson Johnson's book Computer Ethics was the first major textbook in the field, and it quickly became the primary text used in computer ethics courses offered at universities in English-speaking countries.
For more than a decade, her textbook set the computer ethics research agenda on topics, such as ownership of software and intellectual property, computing and privacy, responsibility of computer professionals, and fair distribution of technology and human power. They are not , she insisted, wholly new ethics problems requiring additions to traditional ethical theories, as Maner had claimed Maner He went beyond descriptions and examples of computer ethics problems by offering an explanation of why computing technology raises so many ethical questions compared to other kinds of technology.
The logical malleability of computer technology, said Moor, makes it possible for people to do a vast number of things that they were not able to do before. Since no one could do them before, the question never arose as to whether one ought to do them. In addition, because they could not be done before, no laws or standards of good practice or specific ethical rules were established to govern them. He added additional ideas in the s, including the important notion of core human values : According to Moor, some human values — such as life, health, happiness, security, resources, opportunities, and knowledge — are so important to the continued survival of any community that essentially all communities do value them.
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The third step is accomplished by combining deontology and consequentialism — which traditionally have been considered incompatible rival ethics theories — to achieve the following practical results:. Beginning with the computer ethics works of Norbert Wiener , , , a common thread has run through much of the history of computer ethics; namely, concern for protecting and advancing central human values, such a life, health, security, happiness, freedom, knowledge, resources, power and opportunity.
Thus, most of the specific issues that Wiener dealt with are cases of defending or advancing such values. For example, by working to prevent massive unemployment caused by robotic factories, Wiener tried to preserve security, resources and opportunities for factory workers.
Similarly, by arguing against the use of decision-making war-game machines, Wiener tried to diminish threats to security and peace. In the early s, a different emphasis within computer ethics was advocated by Donald Gotterbarn. He believed that computer ethics should be seen as a professional ethics devoted to the development and advancement of standards of good practice and codes of conduct for computing professionals. Throughout the s, with this aspect of computer ethics in mind, Gotterbarn worked with other professional-ethics advocates for example, Keith Miller, Dianne Martin, Chuck Huff and Simon Rogerson in a variety of projects to advance professional responsibility among computer practitioners.
These and many other projects focused attention upon professional responsibility and advanced the professionalization and ethical maturation of computing practitioners.
Gender, Ethics and Information Technology – By Alison Adam
See the bibliography below for works by R. Anderson, D.
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Gotterbarn, C. Huff, C. Martin, K. Miller, and S.
She argued that computer ethics eventually will evolve into a global ethic applicable in every culture on earth. She merely predicted that such a theory would emerge over time because of the global nature of the Internet and the resulting ethics conversation among all the cultures of the world. In developing his information ethics theory henceforth FIE , Floridi argued that the purview of computer ethics — indeed of ethics in general — should be widened to include much more than simply human beings, their actions, intentions and characters.
On the other hand, IE is different from these more traditional Western theories because it is not intended to replace them , but rather to supplement them with further ethical considerations that go beyond the traditional theories, and that can be overridden, sometimes, by traditional ethical considerations. Floridi, More precisely, [any existing entity] will be a discrete, self-contained, encapsulated package containing.
At this level of abstraction, informational systems as such, rather than just living systems in general, are raised to the role of agents and patients of any action, with environmental processes, changes and interactions equally described informationally.
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Floridi , Objects and processes in the infosphere can be significantly damaged or destroyed by altering their characteristic data structures. FIE is based upon the idea that everything in the infosphere has at least a minimum worth that should be ethically respected, even if that worth can be overridden by other considerations:.
With this approach, every existing entity — humans, other animals, plants, organizations, even non-living artifacts, electronic objects in cyberspace, pieces of intellectual property — can be interpreted as potential agents that affect other entities, and as potential patients that are affected by other entities.
es.zykyqoce.gq See, for example, Floridi and Sanders, FIE is an important component of a more ambitious project covering the entire new field of the Philosophy of Information. Home Ethics of Science and Technology. Ethics of Science and Technology Since its involvement in promoting international reflection on the ethics of life sciences in the s, UNESCO continues to build and reinforce linkages among ethicists, scientists, policy-makers, judges, journalists, and civil society to assist Member States in enacting sound and reasoned policies on ethical issues in science and technology.
World Science Day for Peace and Development. Ethics Teachers' Training Course in Georgia. More events.