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Ethics and Responsibilities; What role do they play in our lives?

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

Hi everyone! For those who are reading a blog of mine for the first time, my name is Freya Shah. I will be in Grade 10 come September at Woburn CI! This week, I had the opportunity to attend an extremely informative workshop with Mackenzie Clark, and I am so excited to share my experience with everyone today! Mackenzie's workshop was extremely informational and hands-on, where we got to learn about ethics in technology, as well as got to create our very own website! (Mine is still in the making). Mackenzie explained how one slip-up can turn an innovative, useful technology into a harmful and ill-mannered one very easily. This blog post will focus primarily on Ethics, and how we as individuals, as well as companies, can implement them into our worlds.


Before we get into my key takeaways, let's talk a little about Mackenzie! Mackenzie is originally from Kelowna, British Columbia, however, she moved to Toronto to study Robotics Engineering. Here, she explained how one of her most rewarding experiences was joining the Blue Sky Solar Race team as a Mechanical Engineer! Mackenzie was part of a team that designed, built, tested, and raced a solar powered car across the States! She ended up deciding that Mechanical Engineering was not for her, so she left the team and took a year off of school to find her passion, and see what she wants to do in life. During that year, Mackenzie landed a job at Intel. She explained how this first job provided her with the greatest mentorship, and opened her eyes to see just how valuable mentorship really is. Shortly after this, Mackenzie landed a Software Engineering Internship at Google, and that is how she got into her current job as a Software Engineer at Google.

From Mackenzie's Story, I had three major takeaways:


There is never a failed opportunity-

By taking part in the Blue Sky Solar Race, Mackenzie got to learn more about herself! Even though she ended up leaving the team, she learned that Mechanical Engineering was not for her. This goes to show that each opportunity is never wasted. You always learn something, whether it be something you love, or something you get to cross off your list!


Building Confidence through Experience-

Mackenzie explained that her first job at Intel helped her gain confidence. There is a quote that I really love, and it relates right back to this topic.


" Confidence comes from experience.

Experience comes from doing.

Doing comes from courage."

- Sean McCabe


I cant do this YET-

Mackenzie also explained that at Google, they teach students the power of YET. When you tell yourself you cannot do something, that is DEmotivation. Adding those three simple letters turns Demotivation into motivation! It allows you to know that there is still room and time for you to grow!


 

My Key Takeaways


  1. Being a creator of Technology comes with High Responsibility.

Engineers wear IRON RINGS. These are little pieces of metal engineers wear on their pinky finger of their dominant hand, to remind themselves of the obligations and ethical responsibilities that come with being a creator of technology (engineer). This iron ring works kind of like a red string, that many of us may have heard of. Why Iron? Well, there is a little story behind this :

Story from : https://colterreed.com/the-failed-bridge-that-inspired-a-simple-steel-band/


"The Quebec Bridge was to be the first bridge over the St. Lawrence River at Quebec. Construction began around the turn of the 20th century.

The engineer who designed the bridge had never worked on a project of that size before, and it didn’t have the structural strength to support its own weight. Despite early warning signs, a combination of vanity and political pressure pushed the project forward. On August 29, 1907, the bridge collapsed, killing 75 workers.


Understandably, the second attempt at building the bridge was under even more pressure than the first attempt. Corners were cut to get the project back on schedule and under budget. Those decisions caught up with them on September 11, 1916, when the bridge collapsed a second time, killing another 13 workers.


After the second collapse, the chief engineer took a length of pipe from the wreckage, had it sliced into rings, and distributed one to each man working on the project. The ring was to be worn on the little finger of their dominant hand. Every time they bumped it while signing off on a design, or turning a tool, it was to remind them that peoples’ lives hung in the balance of their judgement.


No more shortcuts. From then on, every man was to do his best work and nothing less."

 

2. Remembering that things that we create can be repurposed for negative use.

For example, a commonly used technology is Facial Recognition. To a common person, facial recognition can prove to be extremely useful, in terms of unlocking your phone, or an automatic focus when you are taking a picture. But reality is that Facial Recognition has been proven to be repurposed for harmful applications. Some examples would be to follow or watch certain people, steal faces and identities to commit crimes, or for systematic biases. Facial Recognition can be harmful if it is used in this illegal manner.

 

What exactly are Ethics?


The word "ethics" is derived from the Greek word "ethos", which means a "way of living." Ethics are the set of moral principles that guide a person’s behavior. Each individuals ethics help a person determine:


- What is "right" and what is "wrong"

- What is "just" and what is "unjust"

- What is "good" and what is "bad"


What shapes a persons ethics?

A persons ethics are determined by many factors, three of which I find the most dominant. Social Norms, Cultural Practices, and Religious influence all play a huge role in determining a moral set.

Social Norms

Social norms are rules and standards that are collectively agreed upon and understood by members of a societal group. Social norms can be INFORMAL understanding, or can be made into government rules or laws. They are typically concerned with behaviors of decision making.