Morality, Ethics And Computers Essay

1556 words - 6 pages

Morality and Ethics and ComputersThere are many different sides to the discussion on moral and ethical uses ofcomputers. In many situations, the morality of a particular use of a computer is up to theindividual to decide. For this reason, absolute laws about ethical computer usage isalmost, but not entirely, impossible to define.The introduction of computers into the workplace has introduced many questionsas well: Should employers make sure the workplace is designed to minimize health riskssuch as back strain and carpal tunnel syndrome for people who work with computers?Can employers prohibit employees from sending personal memos by electronic mail to afriend at the other side of the office? Should employers monitor employees' work oncomputers? If so, should employees be warned beforehand? If warned, does that makethe practice okay? According to Kenneth Goodman, director of the Forum for Bioethicsand Philosophy at the University of Miami, who teaches courses in computer ethics,'There's hardly a business that's not using computers.'1 This makes these questions allthe more important for today's society to answer.There are also many moral and ethical problems dealing with the use of computersin the medical field. In one particular case, a technician trusted what he thought acomputer was telling him, and administered a deadly dose of radiation to a hospitalpatient.2 In cases like these, it is difficult to decide who's fault it is. It could have been thecomputer programmer's fault, but Goodman asks, 'How much responsibility can you placeon a machine?'3Many problems also occur when computers are used in education. Shouldcomputers replace actual teachers in the classroom? In some schools, computers andcomputer manuals have already started to replace teachers. I would consider this anunethical use of computers because computers do not have the ability to think and interacton an interpersonal basis.Computers 'dehumanize human activity'4 by taking away many jobs and makingmany others 'boring exercises in pushing the buttons that make the technology work.' 5Complete privacy is almost impossible in this computer age. By using a credit cardor check cashing card, entering a raffle, or subscribing to a magazine, people provideinformation about themselves that can be sold to marketers and distributed to data basesthroughout the world. When people use the world-wide web, the sites they visit anddownload things from, make a record that can be traced back to the person.6 This is notprotected, as it is when books are checked out of a library. Therefore, information aboutsomeone's personal preferences and interests can be sold to anyone. A health insurancecompany could find out if a particular person had bought alcohol or cigarettes and chargethat person a higher rate because he or she is a greater health risk. Although somethinglike this has not been reported yet, there are no laws against it, at this point.More and more data base companies are monitoring...

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