Demystifying Tech Ethics

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Technology ethics is the “application of ethical thinking to the practical concerns of technology.” Ethics started as a branch of Philosophy with the Greek philosophers Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, and includes more modern contributions from Immanuel Kant (duty ethics), as well as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill (utilitarianism).

During the 1970s, medical teacher and researcher Walter Maner first separated the term “computer ethics” as a branch of philosophy. In 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded killing all 7 astronauts due to the low temperature at launch time – a risk that several engineers noted, but that NASA management dismissed. That event accelerated the “tech ethics” discussion and help to push it into everyday discussion. As technology exploded, tech ethics has become a major topic in all areas of technology which obviously includes entrepreneurs.

Some questions / points to explore:

  • What are the big topics you see in tech ethics today?
  • Is tech ethics important to your business? If so, what are the key issues you deal with?
  • How much time do you spend dealing with these issues? How do you deal with them?
  • Do you need more information or outside help in dealing with these issues?
  • Where do you see the biggest strides being made in evolving the tech ethics discussion?

Technology ethics is the “application of ethical thinking to the practical concerns of technology.” Ethics started as a branch of Philosophy with the Greek philosophers Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, and includes more modern contributions from Immanuel Kant (duty ethics), as well as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill (utilitarianism).

During the 1970s, medical teacher and researcher Walter Maner first separated the term “computer ethics” as a branch of philosophy. In 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded killing all 7 astronauts due to the low temperature at launch time – a risk that several engineers noted, but that NASA management dismissed. That event accelerated the “tech ethics” discussion and help to push it into everyday discussion. As technology exploded, tech ethics has become a major topic in all areas of technology which obviously includes entrepreneurs.

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