Increasing use of technologies used in our everyday life for convenience, power, or improvement of an individual's life, can cause cultural stress as well as ethical challenges. Growth of one person may be at the expense of many other persons. This is also applicable to many organizations and businesses. There are regulations and legal systems, which can not be very exhaustive. There are things more than legally (from a legal viewpoint) correct. What is moral or ethical behavior?. All, community/religious leaders, business persons, politicians, philosophers, and every person feels morals or ethics are more important than legal system
Current technologies such as nuclear energy; robotics and drones; the use of technology for surveillance; and big data, affect everyone’s social life. Technologies leads to more problems requiring new technologies to solve. They damage environment, affect privacy and public health. We need to look into social/technology assessment, from the legal, political and institutional environment, for protecting our rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
We all could agree that stealing, murder, assault, slander, or fraud are all unethical. Does it ethical for organizations, governments do these crimes, well under legal system and at times outside legal system. These are truly difficult questions, with no easy answers.
Ethics and Businesses
Ethics can be defined as the right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable behaviour. Ethics link different sections of organization: management; employees; customers; and suppliers. Ethics helps to bring peace, harmony and creates a good working environment Ethics brings about customer satisfaction.
Unfortunately, many businesses and business leaders have set a poor example of business ethics and tried to take shortcuts to success and profitability. These multinational corporations have been greatly criticized due to the fact that they are engaged in unethical behaviours. Multinational corporations have led to increase in inequality and poverty in the countries where they make their investments.
Humans have reputation for worshiping financial gods, who make fortunes by legally cheating others. "Only I should live. All my competitors should be destroyed. I can get away with my evil actions. So, it is fine for me". These type of people are menace to peaceful society, which believes in "Live and Let others Live. Money is not every thing."
IT and computer buy competitor technologies or tech firms to destroy or bury them. They don't even necessarily attempt to use the technology, they just want to kill off competition. They destroy liveli hood of professionals and kill many good technologies.
Pharmaceutical companies collect information about how herb or other natural medicine is used among natives in less-developed country, do some R&D to find the material that make those natural medicines effective, and patent the findings. Companies can now sell the medicine to the natives who are the original source of the knowledge that made production of medicine possible. natives and original producers, get nothing for their efforts.
Government cannot correct injustice. Nobody likes to see cosmic injustice: kids with serious health problems through no fault of their own, families whose homes are destroyed in natural and man made disasters, etc. However, when government steps in to correct a cosmic injustice, the price must be paid by someone else who had nothing to do with causing the injustice. Thus, every time government fixes or eases a cosmic injustice, it creates a new one by sticking somebody with the bill.
“Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.” ― Honoré de Balzac. Legal systems can catch few minor offenders, leaving many big players. It is hardly effective. It just creates wealth for administrators and professionals in legal industry. This makes people to think, "If I can get away with evil and legally correct, then it is fine".
- Welcoming innovation and the benefits it brings us, in spite of need to change and uncertainties in new methods/technologies.
- Remain committed to sustainable development, taking into account issues of inequality, human dignity and inclusiveness.
- Huge infrastructural adaptations and conversions, for new technology implementation.
- Who will be responsible for environmental clean up and other bad effects of new technologies.
- Real cost of change and actual benefits - need for transparency
- Technology changes have no national border - Affects every one in the world and so needs international level controls
- Need for an open mind, a respect for all cultures, in adopting new technologies.
- Role of religions and belief systems in defining moral and ethical behavior
- High cost of legal systems to help victims
Ways to Promote Ethical Conduct
There are two sides of profit making motives in many organisations for example the ethical way and unethical way of generating profits. Following are few suggestions to promote ethical conduct among organizations and employees
- Understand legally correct is different from morally or ethically correct
- Corporate social responsibility and accountability.
- Customer loyalty and trust are very important in the prosperity of any business.
- Good ethics is good business. Profit should not be the only motive. Ethics and profit should go hand in hand.
- Competing fairly in the market. Competitors are like your partners, in serving people. Work with them instead of destroying them.
- When some action creates enviromental damage, clean up the mess and ensure that it is not defeated
- Control and avoid harmful products and processes.
- If any decision or action affects society by creating unemployement or poverty or social problems, it is responsibility to solve the problem created by them
- Avoiding bribes and other means to get business.
Employees and Public
- Honesty and Fairness
- Trustworthiness and dependability
- Respect and Concern for Others
- Responsibility and accountability
- Fair competition with others with in the organization
- If some thing is not correct, express and use diplomacy to correct the situation. One need not become a rebel and create problem for one self
The debate on stem cells and embryo research, for example, has become a political and social issue (international level) involving scientists, policy makers, politicians and religious groups. Similarly, the discussions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have mobilized civil society, scientists and policy makers in a wide debate on ethics and safety. Requests for transparency are increasingly central to these debates, as shown by movements like Right to Know. There is a need to resolve all ethical issues posed by an earlier generation of technologies as well as others that will bring about new ethical and regulatory challenges. Some technologies have already been around for years or, in various forms, for decades and hey are now transitioning to a new phase, however, becoming more widely used or incorporated in consumer goods.
- Among technology solutions, best is not chosen. For example, best computer operating system is not the most popular operating system.
- Selecting one from available technology solutions, is not done from society view point or benefits-drawback view point. The technology solutions which will give best returns and easily implementable by business is selected.
- Public, government and independent researchers have no major role in selecting one from available technology solutions
- New technologies replace traditional local technologies. Local industry can not compete with new entrants (large firms), in price and scale of operations. Local technologies may be good, use less of earth resources, incorporate re cycling concepts, less investment and more employment/liveli hood opportunities. Still they can not compete and loose out in the end.
- Free trade and Globalization have many benefits. But, they also kill traditional and local industries based on eco friendly technologies, who can not compete because of size.
- All businesses are interested to be the first to capture market. So, they will sacrifice quality, thorough analyzes and safety to shorten time to market.
- Customers are forced to accept latest versions of products, even though they are not interested in upgrades or modifications. Lack of support for older versions force customers to upgrade.
- Businesses sell products with many unnecessary features, though the customers do not want them.
- To fight competition, powerful or large firms, drive many good companies out of business. There are strategies like acquisitions to decimate small firms.
- Oil industry lobby will ensure there will be always great demand for fossil fuels, in spite of many problems. Automobile industries will ensure, other modes of transport can not grow fast and will not reduce their sales.
- Legally right, but morally and ethically wrong
- Laws and ethics can't keep pace with technology. Rapid technological progress and relatively slow legislative process and regulatory rule making means there will almost always be a gap between technology and the law.
- Difficult to enact laws to protect privacy (legal systems are not capable to handle privacy issues). They are also very costly to implement
- The issues around patenting genetic information are even more complex.
- Unnecessary diagnostics and treatments
- Affordability and real benefits of new treatments and procedures
- Side effects of medication - Many create new health problems so more medicines can be sold to cure illness due to side effects
- Interest to sell more medicines from profit view point rather than curing illness
- Pharmaceutical companies control research, to help them sell more products and medicines
Economics and Social issues
- Unemployment due to automation
- Migration due to shift in production centres and Globalisation
- Survival of small businesses and Industries, competing with large firms
Privacy and IT issues
- Many of the technologists involved in data aggregation are shown to have some benefit to civil society. We also see risks to privacy and civil rights from "big data."
- Respect for privacy by profit and data-driven journalism
- Misuse of public records
- Unethical advertising
- Search engines favor revenue providing sites.
- Crime or violence has nothing to do with any country, race, religion and so on.
- Media should try not to bring religion, race, politics and so on, when they report violence. Care should be taken so that, Media coverage and sensational news, may create problems elsewhere, like retaliation and so on.
- Media should respect privacy
- Media should concentrate more on useful information, rather than cluttering with gossips and unnecessary items (information and data overload)
Administrator:NARA is a Consultant by profession and an Engineer by qualification. Nara holds an Engineering Masters degree and have worked 25 years for leading organizations.
Now working part time on country/technology research projects and Maintaining community Web sites.
Spending more time to pursue his interests on studying: ancient scriptures; maths & astronomy; physics; philosophy; history & culture and so on.