Technology is evolving at an exponential rate. We are living in an age where tech giants have gone from startups to multi-million, if not multi-billion dollar companies in a handful of years. Educating our youth in computer science has become increasingly necessary however, what happens when technology is ranked as a higher priority than ethics?
This subject has gained popularity in the online community since recent scandals have been brought to light. From leaked sensitive data, to technology addiction, it becomes clear why digital detox has become a new buzz word in the industry.
If you Google ethics you can find the following definition, “moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity.” The difficulty of implementing a standard set of moral principles is, what is unethical to one person may seem reasonable behaviour to another.
A great example of this grey area happens when technology breakthroughs occur. It is common for one person to take the grunt of the praise. Take Steve Jobs for instance, the co-founder of Apple. He received praise for developing the products we love today. Meanwhile there is a team of software developers, engineers and marketers behind the company.
I’m not accusing Steve Jobs of being unethical, he treated his employees well and gave them the credit they deserve. It is a prime example of a trend that is prominent in the technology industry. It may not strike many as being unethical, but I would consider it morally questionable.
On the other side of the spectrum, data breaches seem to be rising in popularity. Facebook has recently been targeted for the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
We, as a society, tend to trust the information we gather from social media over our governments, which in turn leads to misinformation.
Countries have created policies social media platforms are meant to follow. However, these policies tend to be too vague, missing major factors that should have been considered, or they are too convoluted and incomprehensive for your average reader to understand.
This recent scandal is shining a light on the need for stricter government policies and ethics.
The Canadian and UK parliaments have formally summoned Mark Zuckerberg. Their goal is to obtain details about Facebook’s digital policies and information governance practices as they continue to investigate the democratic impacts of social media.
Another ethical red flag is demonstrated in Google’s sexual misconduct scandal reported in the New York Times.
A coworker had accused Andy Rubin, creator of Android, of sexual Misconduct. Google should have fired the employee, but since Mr. Rubin had provided the company with substantial revenue, the moral compass seems to have slid.
The outcome was a request for Mr. Rubin to resign and to provide him with an exceptionally generous salary for the following four years. This of course, was not made public.
With computer science being a priority in schools for our youth, we cannot afford to lose sight on education regarding social ethics and morals. We are frequently exposed to examples of poor ethics online. Let us not fall into the social trap that these examples become normal behaviour.
We would love to hear from you. What moral improvements would you like to see in the technology industry? Leave a comment below.