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ICS 417: ICT and Society 4.1 Ethics and ICT.

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1 ICS 417: ICT and Society 4.1 Ethics and ICT

2 Ethical Behaviour Ethics deals with good, right and just behaviour as well as evil, wrong and unjust behaviour. It is important because it can affect a stakeholder’s ability to achieve his/her goals A person’s behaviour at a moment of truth to reflect on ethical issues lies in the domain: a. Praise-worthy – when person makes exceptional effort to help a stakeholder reach his/her goals and foster that person’s humanity e.g. Al Ross, research scientist at Uni of Washington, who developed a portable, microprocessor-based communication system to enable physically disabled persons, esp. suffering from celebral palsy, to “talk” to the world

3 b. Normal behaviour – behaviour consistent with norms of society (part of an unwritten agreement between its members to behave with reciprocal responsibility in relationships with one another) c. Unethical behaviour – an act that causes a stakeholder to be killed, maimed, insulted, embarrassed, compromised, etc. Ethical thinking helps us compare “what is” with “what ought to be”, apply ethical principles and make an ethical choice that resolves the ethical issue

4 4.1.2 Analysis of Denise’s Case
Read the case and discuss in groups in 15 minutes Identify the moments of truth at which decisions with ethical implications were made Identify the ethical problems associated with the decisions at the moments of truth Suggest how these issues could be solved if this situation arose in Kenya

5 What were the key Moments of Truth?
Toll Booth Authority’s decision to implement a system that collected transaction data TBA’s decision to sell data to Hartford Honda Honda’s decision to use data to embark on a targeted marketing program What ethical problems did above decisions pose? Privacy. Denise uninformed about additional use of data about her – the info giver’s consent was not solicited

6 Info practices - Denise did not know the information that was held of her. In addition, the info. taker used the info for purposes other than those for which it was originally collected – violating the social contract between the 2 N.B. Introducing ICT into a social system changes the social relationships between its members and thereby affects the social contract – sometimes posing ethical problems. This is related to shareability of info – increasing potential of affecting some givers or stakeholders

7 How can we solve the problem in Kenya?
Having a legally binding contract on keeping the data confidential Developing systems that are less intrusive Legal provisions for privacy of data – to facilitate prosecution

8 4.1.3 Types of Ethical Issues
1. Temptations At a moment of truth, person knows morally right and wrong but tempted to choose morally wrong e.g. copying videos Temptation test: When faced with temptation, ask yourself: “If I took the same course of action over and over again, would it still be acceptable?” A test called slippery slope rule Ethical advice: “Once you start sliding down the slippery slope, you may not be able to stop. So don’t start” Information temptations in the info age are prevalent 3 main motivations for acquiring info: fear, greed & curiosity Most societies not developed ethical mechanisms for curbing info temptations as we have for use of money, force, etc. Challenge: identify info temptations and develop ethical mechanisms to deal with them e.g. codes of ethics

9 2. Ethical Quandaries Occurs whenever an agent faces a moral bind between competing goods and competing evils Not dilemma – is choice between 2 equally unwelcome alternatives; a special case of a quandaries Essence of quandary is captured by US expression: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, damned all around” Was Abraham’s situation (commanded by the Lord to sacrifice his son) a quandary? You are CEO and head of ICT has presented a business case of implementing EIS that would address pressing problems of high operational costs but would result in laying off many middle managers. You are close to them and their families. You know that most might not be able to find jobs. At the same time, if the system is not installed, there might be no jobs for anyone? What would you do?

10 Solution: examine all facts of case & apply moral principles to make reasoned and principled decision 3. Criticism This involves taking proactive actions (initiative) on non-pressing issues but that may have unethical behavioural consequences e.g. How can an organization be structured so that confidential information is safeguarded? What laws are required to ensure an individual’s privacy is protected? Answering these questions requires ethical thinking and the taking of proactive action Solution involves: Evaluation of situation Judging its ethical merits and faults Suggesting means for improvement

11 4. Professional Self-Regulation
Basis: every person in info society is also responsible for his or her fellow info person’s behaviour I.e. “bad apples” must be eliminated; unethical performance confronted and regulated Policing and disciplining others is unpleasant but it is a vital one in an ethical society Self-regulation therefore involves each member of society taking the responsibility to police and take actions aimed at disciplining others with unethical behaviour. Aim is to create an ethical society without using formal systems of policing and punishment

12 4.1.4 Considerations in Resolving Ethical Issues
When faced with temptation, quandary, etc at a moment of truth, start a dialogue with yourself, including others as required 6 considerations to be taken into account when resolving an ethical issue: 1. What are the facts? To establish the morally relevant considerations or “what is”. This requires: i) scoping of the pertinent info field, understanding info life cycles involved and identification of key decision-making processes at work

13 ii) identifying all key agents (info givers, takers, gatekeepers), and relevant acts, results and stakeholders iii) understanding agents and stakeholders values and motivations + their personal, social and physical history 2. What ethical principles & stds should be applied? This is to get “what ought to be” Involves applying relevant ethical considerations (ethical theories and principles) on the facts derived from 1. above

14 3. Who should decide? OR who should take the necessary actions to bring about what ought to be? This requires: i) Participation of all relevant parties in resolving the issue. The following questions point to a solution: Would I be comfortable if my contemplated action or behaviour is subjected to public debate? Would I tell my friend, mother, father, boss, spouse, etc? Would the man/woman I respect, admire, etc be happy with my contemplated decision or action? What will future generations think of my actions? From questions above, relevant parties do not have to be physically present or even alive! They only need to be heard via internal dialogue

15 4. Who should benefit from the decision?
ii) Address issues of sovereignty, legitimacy and the ability to effect a resolution This requires involving in the decision-making process those parties with: the duty or responsibility to deal with the issue the resources required to resolve the issue 4. Who should benefit from the decision? Involves balancing the interests of the key stakeholders. The following questions indicate the type of balancing required: Whose values should predominate? Who has the strongest claims? To whom do we have the most compelling responsibilities? What are the long-run considerations?

16 5. How should the decisions be made?
Ethical decision-making also requires due process and due respect Due Process Means process must be fair & follow established procedures. Process may be as important as decision itself Procedures identify parties with authority to comment, examine procedures, recommend courses of action, decide or veto decisions Due Respect Respect comes from style and integrity of decision-makers DR requires that dignity of all parties be honoured, preserved & negative effects minimized. This calls for discretion, foresight, patience & even love

17 6. How to prevent issues from re-occuring
All decisions become part of a society’s historical transcript When resolving issue at a MOT, ask yourself ?s: Will the proposed solution generate even worse problems in the future? What sort of precedence is being set? Do we need to restructure our institution to keep this issue from occurring again? Do we need procedures that will make it possible to deal with this kind of issue more effectively in future? In summary, ask the following questions: What course of action will put us in best position for future? What kind of social transcript do we want to write?

18 Key Points 6 considerations require ethical decision maker to go beyond just the presenting ethical issue e.g. additional voices, procedures, looking into future, etc. Considerations apply to individual, organizational and societal levels. E.g. an ethical issue confronting an individual will often have wider societal implications E.g. changing grades by a student -got info via curiosity: Student may be punished (e.g. expulsion) because of the action UoN community (deans, students, lecturers) may loose faith in the SMS, resulting in non-use & even worse (efficiency-wise) manual systems. In turn, may have other implications for mgnt Public may loose faith in management of public universities and university education in general

19 Summary Ethical thinking requires systematic ethical issue and determining whether an agent’s actual or contemplated behaviour is ethical or unethical (NOT nonethical) Corrective vision approach (compare what is and what ought to be) essential in info society because: Agent with most power not always correct Institutions that society has created are not ethically pure or perfect There are times when we as responsible citizens have to point out what we believe to be unethical, irrespective of who the perpetrators are 4 tensions (ethical issues) exist at a MOT, which require an ability to think through the ethical issues they raise – thus the 6 considerations

20 4.1.5 Ethical Theories Ethical theories are used: Theories centre on:
to interpret facts of an ethical issue (what is) to indicate what ought to be Theories centre on: Agent e.g. moral theory, virtue, egoism, etc. Action Results or consequences of actions Justice (is result fair or just?) Ethical theories are as old as man and are in constant change as societies change – aim is to create an ideal society (moral, just, etc.)

21 E.g. 1: Deontological ethical theories:
Centre on actions taken by people and the duties, rights, privileges, or responsibilities that pertain to those actions. In deontological reasoning, a person is supposed to follow rules, e.g. the Ten Commandments, Company Code of Ethics, etc. Allow there to be a logically accepted “good” act argued from first principles of basic morality E.g. 2: Teleological or utilitarian ethical theories: Concerned primarily with the social effects of behaviour Ethical behaviour is that which maximizes the overall benefit to society. Current behaviour is thus not determined from first principles but from anticipated and estimated overall effects. I.e. “the end justifies the means” viewpoint. However, the nature of that end must be ascertained.

22 But, does the Kenyan society acknowledge the above rights?
Whether deontological or teleological theories, there is need to determine what are the agreed principles of right and wrong or the adjusted good effects Ethical theories based on a sense of rights may recognize five basic rights: the right to free consent the right to privacy the right to freedom of consience the right to free speech the right to due process But, does the Kenyan society acknowledge the above rights? Perhaps it is high time we participated in the on-going constitution review process!!

23 4.1.6 ICT Issues that Pose Ethical Dilemmas
Privacy ICT may pose questions regarding disclosures about a person and their interactions e.g. security system The common good may push towards using ICT to uncover socially damaging situations (e.g. pattern in data stores that indicate criminal activities) while the individual good may push against such use How do you resolve the two conflicts of privacy and accessibility? We shall discuss more in section 6 on ICT and the Law

24 Accuracy ICT may pose questions wrt achieving informational accuracy and redress from inaccuracy Decision making on the basis of stored data may facilitate speed of action (potentially “good”) at the expense of occasional errors Each error, however rare, represents a potential for individual wrong (e.g. erroneous credit authorization) or a social damage (e.g. high phone bill because of errors in billing software, leading to disconnection and associated social damage)

25 Property ICT may pose questions wrt ownership of information and its communication channels Is ICT an ownable asset (as in patents) or a social commitment (as in health care)? Organizations’ MIS store data and info about their interactions with others e.g. customers, suppliers, employees, etc. Who has the rights of ownership and how can communal ownership be mediated in a morally just way? Other examples of communal ownership include the Internet, public communication links e.g. Kenstream and Jambonet links

26 Access ICT may pose questions wrt information and technological capability Exploitation of ICT capability may disenfranchise one organizational group whilst at the same time strengthening another (esp. those who are more knowledgeable on ICT) Should ICT literacy then be a fundamental requirement or even a right? If yes, to what extent should society have rights to “free” ICT training and access? These dilemmas suggest the need for an ICT code of conduct

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