Technological optimism and pessimism
The Nineteen Eight-Four is a fictional novel by George Orwell that illustrates technological optimism and pessimism. In the novel, Big Brother is a dictator who rules the totalitarian government of Oceania using technology. The totalitarian government has no laws, but it can punish its citizens when it deems they have gone against the principles of the government. In employing totalitarian tactics, Big Brother divides his government into four ministries, namely, peace, truth, love, and plenty.
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The peace ministry is responsible for the war, the ministry of truth heads dissemination of education and news, the loving ministry is in charge of law and order, while plenty of ministry deals with economic matters. Big Brother ensures that there is constant surveillance of the citizens using telescreens. By instilling fear in the citizens, the truth ministry always reminds citizens that the ‘Big Brother is watching you.’ With fears that they are on constant surveillance, Big Brother manages to rule and control the population quite easily, thus enhancing his totalitarian powers in the government.
The benefit of the technology is that it enables Big Brother to rule and control his government quite easily since constant surveillance of citizens ensures that there is appropriate enforcement of the law and order. Under surveillance, no citizen can commit a crime and escape the eyes of law enforcement officers. However, the concern is that technological surveillance by the use of telescreens empowers leaders like Big Brother to utilize totalitarian strategies in ruling his people.
Constant surveillance limits the freedom of the citizens as they are under constant fear that Big Brother is watching them. The telescreens limit privacy, which is an inalienable right that citizens require for them to exercise their duties in a free society. In this view, I am a technological pessimist.
Computer negative impacts and proposed solutions
Despite its relevance in the modern world, computer technology hurts reducing informational privacy. Computer technology does not provide reliable informational privacy, as it amasses details of an individual and sets a database. Credit cards provide data about the purchasing habits and income levels of individuals, while social sites reveal sexual orientations, religious and political affiliations, and social life. Since most organizations do not have secure websites to counteract this negative impact of computer technology, they should encrypt their data in a way that a third party cannot hack and access it.
Another impact of information technology is an enhanced violation of copyright and patent laws. Technologies such as computer software and applications are part of intellectual property that requires legal protection with the aim of promoting invention and innovation. Hackers can easily violate copyright and patent laws if enough security is available to protect a given software or intellectual property.
The emergence of computer technology requires a new set of laws because the software is an intellectual property that can neither be protected by copyright laws nor patent laws. To reduce cases of violation of copyright and patent laws, harmonized international laws that guard against piracy are necessary for every jurisdiction has its laws yet technology has no jurisdiction.
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The third negative impact of computer technology is increased cybercrime. In modern society, bloggers and hackers use social sites to spread their propaganda and hate speech, which eventually creates conflicts amongst different nations and tribes. To overcome this negative impact, social and blogging sites should develop ways of identifying their respective individual members before allowing them to use their platform since most of them are unable to do so. Moreover, stringent laws should be in place to deter people from committing crimes using their social sites.
The ethical obligation of posting information on the personal website(s)
Whoever is posting information on any website has an ethical obligation to ensure that the information posted is accurate and true. Posting of untrue and inaccurate information has a great impact on the consumers because some pieces of information can be very sensitive in that they can elicit public uproar. Inaccurate and untrue information amounts to propaganda that is not good for public consumption.
The public requires accurate and true information that is neutral and free from any bias or incitement. Since the Internet is a public site that people can access across the world, the nature of the information that is contained in it must be accurate and true. Chaos and conflicts that occur in many nations show that conflicting parties use communication media to spread their propaganda. Therefore, users of the Internet have an ethical obligation to ensure that whatever they post on their websites is not only accurate but also true.
Moreover, websites provide platforms where people can interact and exchange information. This means that a personal website attracts customers or clients who have an interest in that website or activities. Since it is a personal website, the owner has an ethical obligation to ensure that the clients get accurate and true information about the site and transactions that they undertake through the website.
Inaccurate and untrue information affects the clients as one can use the website as a means of fleecing clients, which constitutes a cyber crime. Additionally, the website owner has an ethical responsibility to ensure that the website is free from inaccurate and untrue information or otherwise bear legal responsibility for the consequences of such information. Therefore, website owners have an ethical obligation of guarding their websites against publishing inaccurate and untrue information.
Social sites, employment, and privacy
The information on social sites is private in that employers should not utilize the information when trying to ascertain the character of a potential employee. What people post on their social sites forms part of the secret information of their lifestyles. Hence, assessing a potential employee based on the information on social sites infringes on privacy rights. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals from the unreasonable search for it infringes on their privacy.
Allowing employers to search social media with the view of retrieving vital information about potential employees infringes on privacy rights for it constitutes an unreasonable search. Some employers have even gone further and asked for social media passwords so that they could view private information about their potential employees during the process of hiring employees. However, legislations that allow employers to violate private provisions as enshrined in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution do not exist.
Modern employers have set regulations that guide employees on how to use their social media sites lest they violate an organization’s policy that guards its interests. Many companies have fired their employees based on their behaviors on social media on account that they violated social media policies that they had agreed to comply with during the employment period. For example, the Eagles, the Philadelphia football team fired its part-time employee in 2009 following critical remarks made on Facebook over management issues. Employers view social media as part of the professional realm where employees ought to behave according to certain regulations and policies. However, I perceive that information that is in social media should not only be private but also should not be used when hiring or firing employees.
The first philosophical aspect of technology is that it has become an integral part of modern society because it is embedded in societal values, principles, and norms that underlie social network. Since technology entails the utilization of scientific knowledge and tools in the resolution of human problems, it comprises a ‘system’ of tools, human resources, knowledge, and regulations amongst other pertinent aspects of technology.
As a system within society, technology integrates into society in various complex ways. This definition suggests that technology is dynamic as it is influenced by the society in the same manner that it influences it. Technological determinism is the second philosophical view, which holds that social forces do not influence technology because it follows its course of life. The third philosophical perspective is that of technological optimism/pessimism. Technological optimism focuses on the benefits that technology provides to humanity, while technological pessimism focuses on the negative impact of technology on humanity.
As per the above philosophies, it is evident that technology has ethical implications in modern society. How engineers utilize technology determines the impact of technology on people and society. Science and technological studies have proved that technology is an integral part of society because of its embeddedness in human activities that shape society. Engineers are part of the system in a social network that creates and utilizes technology in ways that touch the lives of people and transform the entire society.
Hence, owing to the embeddedness of technology in society, engineers have the responsibility of designing technological tools, which reflect the social and humanistic aspects of technology. Therefore, engineers do not only have a professional responsibility, but also an ethical responsibility in ensuring that their technologies have social and value dimensions.