Software is a double-edged sword: for better or worse, you can do almost anything with it. With seemingly limitless possibilities for its applications, software raises complex ethical questions. For every cyber security attack that takes down businesses and costs millions of dollars in productivity, there is a program that helps drive productivity to help both huge companies and individuals.
When used the right way, software can help save lives, clean our environment and bring clean drinking water to those who need it. It is important to take a step back and look, from an ethical perspective, at the potential software has for us as a people.
Ethical Challenges in Cybersecurity:
Finding Those Who Are Unseen
As we travel into space and SpaceX eyes a trip to Mars, it’s astonishing to think that there are areas of the world that we haven’t yet mapped or explored. Take, for example, Missing Maps. Their goal is to find and help the nearly 1 billion people on earth who are not associated with any address, and live in the most remote and volatile places on earth. It is believed that by 2020, 1.5B people will live in slums, which is almost 20% of our world population. As Missing Maps continues to explore our world, information is gathered through software and provided to the world in order to help bring these people a better quality of life.
Digital ethics and the future of humans in a connected world:
Cheating People for a Better Bottom Line
Then there is the side of software that can be used for more nefarious purposes, often driven by helping a corporation’s profit margin. It wasn’t long ago that Volkswagen aimed to take on Toyota as the world’s largest automaker. In April of 2015, their stock was at an all-time high, and VW was looking like they just may achieve their goals. Then scandal hit.
Volkswagen had been cheating the US EPA system by loading different software onto its cars (specifically diesel cars) when they went for emissions testing so they could be sold legally.
As a result, the stock plummeted and executives went to jail. While justice may have been served (in part), it was software that allowed them to get away with this, and a serious ethics violation that could have, or should have, been avoided.
Originally published on Ciklum Blog on December 14, 2017.