Morality and Ethics and Computers

Essay by Patrick McHughHigh School, 12th gradeA, May 1996

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Morality and Ethics and Computers

There are many different sides to the discussion on moral and ethical uses of

computers. In many situations, the morality of a particular use of a computer is up to the

individual to decide. For this reason, absolute laws about ethical computer usage is

almost, but not entirely, impossible to define.

The introduction of computers into the workplace has introduced many questions

as well: Should employers make sure the workplace is designed to minimize health risks

such 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 a

friend at the other side of the office? Should employers monitor employees' work on

computers? If so, should employees be warned beforehand? If warned, does that make

the practice okay? According to Kenneth Goodman, director of the Forum for Bioethics

and 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 all

the more important for today's society to answer.

There are also many moral and ethical problems dealing with the use of computers

in the medical field. In one particular case, a technician trusted what he thought a

computer was telling him, and administered a deadly dose of radiation to a hospital

patient.2 In cases like these, it is difficult to decide who's fault it is. It could have been the

computer programmer's fault, but Goodman asks, 'How much responsibility can you place

on a machine?'3

Many problems also occur when computers are used in education. Should

computers replace actual teachers in the classroom? In some schools, computers and

computer manuals have already started to replace teachers. I would consider this an

unethical use of computers because...