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Matt Huebsch

Vicky Thorland-Oster


Code of Ethics

The purpose of a code of ethics is to have a standard set of rules which apply to everyone equally, and to uphold a standard, in order to maintain safety and ensure some level of fairness and justice. A code of ethics provides a context tailored for different profession. They keep that profession aware their relationship to the rest of the world. A code of ethics summarizes and embodies the relationships between that profession into a rule of thumb, a heuristic, that can be used to quickly and efficiently make decisions in most situations. When I am faced with and ethical situation and need to make a decision, I general use a utilitarian perspective and try to seek out a course of action that maximizes the most happiness for the most amount of people. A code or law is not always a perfect solution, but it provides a logical and efficient starting point. The factors I consider are the given rule, how my actions facilitate my objective, and how my actions affect others. The advisor for our section, Daji Qiao, Briefly talked about a situation he has encountered with approving grants and the need to remove names from grant proposals and homework in order to retain a professional level of unbiased decision making. Throughout the class we also talked about IEEE Code of Ethics and The ethical consideration discussed in our group did not contain a lot of diversity in opinion. Our group mostly agreed on the ethical positions of our discussion probably because we objectively observed the different positions. Our group mainly talked about the cases presented and came to a consensus about all of the different cases we discussed. In our group we discussed 3 cases. The first case we discussed was Pinto issue. The Pinto had stopped suddenly, was rear ended, and the gas tank was ignited. It was later discovered that the company had known about the issue and an optimized the price deaths and lawsuits with the price to fix the problem, and chose the former. The group agreed that Number 1 of IEEE Code of

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Ethics was the most applicable because the companies decision blatantly goes against the statement to “hold paramount the safety of the public”. Three also applied because they were not honest with the public about the issue. Number seven was also applicable because they failed to “to acknowledge and correct errors” before the issue caused extreme harm.

---Explain important ethical obligations associated with your discipline(1. Explain at least one major ethical obligation. 2. Explain how the obligation applies to professional action. 3. Use a systematic argument to support the application. 4. Give several specific examples of professional activities where the ethical obligation applies.) I think that obligation number five is one of the most interesting obligations due to the reliance on agency and knowledge about how technology affects our society. When technology helps us to achieve an objective, it also takes some understanding or learned ability away from us. An example of this is that cell phones hold contact information so now people don’t have remember that information and are reliant on their phones for that information. Another example is that calculators help us perform mathematical calculations faster but we as we use them more we lose the ability to use other more thoughtful methods which takes away from our understanding of the calculations. How this applies to professional action in my industry is a particularly difficult and complex question. I am not sure if the ability to be completely aware of the implications and have agency over the effects of technology without hindsight is even possible. Perhaps, the best course of action would be to perform regular reflections and reviews and ask if what we are doing benefits society. People and societies tends to make better decisions if we are aware of the issues, generally knowledge is directly proportional to the quality of our decision. So by “improving the understanding by individual and society of the capabilities and societal implications of conventional and emerging technologies” we can make a larger number of quality decisions. A couple of examples of the benefits of the obligation are: understanding the capabilities of medical devices that can help doctors and other medical professionals to save lives and perform certain operations better; and to understand potentially destructive capabilities of

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technology such as the capability of airbags to paralyze or kill children. For societal implications, questions about media such as television, video games, and screen use impact the natural cycles of our lives and the way we think and interact.

---Apply a systematic ethical framework to an ethical issue or situation in a disciplinary context (1. Clearly explain the issue or situation to be analyzed. 2. Show which professional

duties apply to the issue or situation by citing a relevant code of ethics. 3. Resolve any conflicts among the applicable duties through a reasoned analysis. 4. Show how an appropriate stance on the issue or situation follows from the analysis.) ---Analyze a complex situation involving multiple conflicting ethical interests or principles to support an appropriate course of action(1. Clearly explain the facts relevant to an ethical evaluation of the situation. 2. Show what competing interests are at work in the situation. 3. Resolve disputes among the competing interests using a systematic ethical framework and/or professional standards. 4. Justify an appropriate course of action and explain why it is the best among the available alternatives.) The ethical situation I am going to discuss is Planned Obsolescence. Many technological manufacturers make a lot of money by making products that will be obsolete in much before they materials the are made with degrade, wear out, or break down. This violates the first obligation

to “hold paramount

practices, and to disclose promptly factors that might endanger the public or the environment”. It should be the responsibility of manufacturers to make sure there products are properly disposed of, and if something can be made better to develop a quality product that lasts. It is irresponsible to purposely make a product obsolete in order to have people buy more, such actions do not “hold paramount the welfare of the public.” It used to be considered bad business to make defective products. Now companies look for disposable products to continue to sell more stuff and make more money without considering long term effects of that disposable society. If we were to focus on more sustainable actions and producing more sustainable products we would instil a conservative attitude towards all things in life. An attitude directed toward


welfare of the public… to comply with … sustainable development

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conserving what we have would inherently lead to more sustainable decisions. technology, environments and relationships. I dream of a world were we could build to last. Where we would build products to last, build an environment to last, build relationships to last, and build a world to last. I believe if we moved away from our disposable tendencies to throw away anything once it uses up its convenience our lives would feel more fulfilled and meaningful. This may sound a bit trivial but I believe this to be one of the foundational cores that could truly make a sustainable difference. I understand that there are fiduciary responsibilities that exist in a company. There are two very different ways to deal with this responsibility. One is a focus short term quarterly gains were products are made to wear out and be convenient without need to take care of or treat those products with what Wendell Berry calls “kindly use.” The other way to deal with that fiduciary responsibility is with long term healthy investments where intelligible research is done, quality products are made, and quality information is provided to the consumer about those products. This latter method instills an attitude to take care of things and develops that “kindly use” that Berry so intelligibly talks about.