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Exploring Ethics on a Microscopic Level

Introduction

Hi everyone! I hope you are having a fantastic morning, afternoon, or evening from wherever you are reading this blog post! My name is Rizwan Tahmeed, a Grade 12 student at Woburn Collegiate Institute. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate Leadership Academy Lecturer Mackenzie Clark’s presentation on ethics in technology and website building using Wix. This blog post will be a bit different from the usual ones. This one will focus on my highlights from the lecture, the concept of ethics, its importance and impact, and how companies can implement it.

Before getting into the highlights, it was an honor to attend Mackenzie’s lecture. The session focused on a crucial aspect of business, corporate responsibility, and a technical skill we need as future employees. This lecture focused on the overarching theme of moral standards and how different jobs or career paths in technology uniquely addresses and utilizes the concepts of ethics. Through this lecture, I learned about building a website and how software developers incorporate good conduct into their job.

Highlights (Key Takeaways)

One of the key takeaways from the lecture was that technologies or services, although created with good intentions in mind, can be repurposed for bad or ill uses. Due to this, many developers in software engineering wear something called an iron ring, which is a reminder of the obligations and ethical responsibilities associated with being an engineer due to a bridge incident in 1907. Some examples of this application are when developers avoid creating anything that can be used for surveillance, violate international law and human rights, aid in weapon creation, and assist conflicts. A simple example is facial recognition that we all have on our phones. We use it to unlock our phones since it provides an alternative to creating a password or pin. However, it can be repurposed for surveillance, stealing faces to perform actions using another person's identity, and systematic bias. Although this is a simple example, there are so many more that seem harmless to us, but beneficial to another individual who harbors evil intentions.

The second key highlight was creating a website that represents my identity and my personal brand, which I discovered from attending Sam Thiara’s lecture. If you missed that blog post, click here to read it. Mackenzie created a worksheet to help us guide through the workshop and to provide us with instructions. We also got to do some JavaScript coding! When I developed websites before, I coded HTML and CSS by hand, used third-party software, or website building tools. However, I never used Wix or coded in JavaScript ever before in my life, so the workshop helped me increase my knowledge of website building and exposed me to a new language. Once I pasted that little JavaScript code into the terminal and saw it in action, it was pretty cool! I have been wanting to learn JavaScript for a few weeks now, but never got around to it. Thus, seeing it in action and doing a little bit of it got me motivated. JavaScript, HTML, and CSS are the three primary pillars and building blocks for launching a user-friendly and clean website.

What is Ethics?

No matter the industry, there are always ethics involved. To get you thinking, let's imagine that you are in a tricky situation where you have to choose between sticking with your principles or abandoning your values. Would you want to be remembered as a person who followed your ethics and the moral code or someone who violated those ideals and brought harm to someone? Ethics, by definition, is a system of moral principles. This is primarily concerned with what is good for individuals and society and how people make decisions. It covers the dilemmas by knowing how to live a good life, our rights and responsibilities as citizens and human beings, the language of right and wrong, and what choice to make in the face of moral decisions.


Now we know what ethics entails, we must now understand the origins of this critical principle. Philosophers believed that it came from several sources or categories in the past. They are God and religion, human conscience and intuition, consequences of human actions, examples of good human beings, and a desire for the best for people in situations. The list below describes each category briefly, but please feel free to click on the link at the end to learn more:



1. God and Religion - Supernaturalism: The first category emphasizes that God only provides the moral code and that ethics is inseparable from religion. In essence, God is identifying what is right and what he or she says is right is what humans should follow.




2. Human Conscience and Intuition - Intuitionism: The second category emphasizes that virtuous and evil are objectives that cannot be broken down into components. In other words, this means that what is good does not need justification or evidence that it is good. As a result, adults can distinguish between good and corrupt due to their intuitive moral sense.


3. Consequences of Human Actions - Consequentialism: The third area emphasizes that people should do whatever produces the greatest amount of good as a consequence of their action. However, this view is problematic for certain deeds or actions.



4. Example of Good Human Beings - Virtue Ethics: The fourth area focuses on virtue or moral character and is concerned with the way individuals live their lives. It identifies good actions or intentions by looking at how people express their inner goodness at what people do. Essentially, it teaches that an action is right if a virtuous person would do the same in similar circumstances.

When we talk about ethics, we usually focus on the general idea and principle. When someone expresses his or her opinion regarding something as good or bad, they often use one of the four optics mentioned below. To understand him or her, we must refer to the four types and what each viewpoint focuses on to comprehend what that person is saying. Those four viewpoints are as follows:

1. Moral Realism: This ‘ism’ is based on the idea that there are already engraved moral facts, truths, and myths in the universe. They are provided by moral statements that reveal information about these engraved concepts in the principle and world of ethics.




2. Subjectivism: This ‘ism’ believes that moral judgments are an expression of a person’s feelings or attitudes instead of statements that provide factual information about what is good and sinful. If someone says something about a certain topic in society that is good or bad, he or she is expressing his or her negative or positive emotions associated with that topic.


3. Emotivism: This ‘ism’ views that ethics or opinions of certain topics are just expressions of approval or disapproval. In comparison to subjectivism, this ‘ism’ demonstrates and expresses the feelings instead of revealing information about the speaker’s feelings. Through this, the individual can show their feelings.




4. Prescriptivism: This ‘ism’ views moral standards or statements as instructions or recommendations. In other words, it teaches people that what is good is something that they are recommended to do and if something is bad, it should be avoided at all costs.



Importance and Impact

Now that we have explored the history, types, and the idea of ethics in more detail, we must understand the importance and impact it has on a person or team. Firstly, ethics provides us with good tools for thinking about moral issues and the consequences of our decisions. We often behave irrationally, and our heart does not follow our head. However, ethics enables us to view sensitive or emotional issues with a focused view and prevents us from arguing with our emotions instead of our head. Secondly, it can also help us pinpoint a disagreement and eliminate the heat of an argument while directing the parties on a path of resolution. Moreover, ethics can open the door to several answers. In certain situations, there is more than one correct answer, and we must choose between them. However, there are times when it does not give us an answer, but instead eliminates confusion and clarifies the issue at hand.

As highlighted above, ethics is prevalent in the workplace. Ethics can help make us a better person and improve the character of a team member, which in turn, can motivate others to follow him or her. Ethical employees are more valuable since they make decisions in the interest of their employers, customers, co-workers, and company stakeholders. Firstly, it can help employees develop trusting relationships among colleagues and superiors. Consequently, they can build relationships, allow people to open up to them, share information, always find a helping hand, and communicate easier. This mindset leads to enhanced productivity and more opportunities for workers. Secondly, it can improve team cohesiveness by allowing them to keep their customers and colleagues at the center of what they do, enabling them to be a better team player, avoid hindering progress, and make positive contributions. Finally, ethics can make employers feel rest assured about who they hired, trust their employees, and improve a person's wellbeing. As a result, individuals feel a sense of peace, emotional stability, and the ability to cultivate friendships instead of guilt or paranoia that unethical employees encounter.

How Can Corporations Implement “Ethics”?

We have discussed the importance, impact, and principle itself in a great amount of detail, but how can corporations implement them into their daily operations and behavior? Well, several ways can be utilized to achieve this goal, but below are just a few examples out of the endless possibilities and methods:


1. Role Modelling: This method entails having all levels of management exhibit good behavior, what is right in certain situations, and how to stay ethical during tough circumstances where the options are difficult. Employees can look up to this role model and understand what is acceptable and what is not in their workplace and the company.



2. Protective Measures: This method entails developing a system to protect employees who speak the truth in order to protect the victims and stay ethical. Often, companies do not have these measures; thus, many are afraid to speak out even though they know it's wrong. Having these measures will prevent them and give them the confidence to speak their truth and opinion.



3. Polices: This method involves revamping and creating policies that focus on ethics specifically. Publishing general guidelines will help employees understand the difference between good and bad, what to do in certain situations, and what is expected from them in terms of ethics.





4. Reward system: This method involves creating a reward system that intrinsically motivates workers to stay ethical and recognizes that they are bringing their values and ethics to work in addition to themselves, who they are as a person, and what experiences shaped their character.







5. Ethics training or Professional Development Days: This method entails providing constant ethics training through an ethics counselor and designating days where employees focus on their skills, abilities, knowledge, and where they can discuss tough situations.





6. Code of Conduct or Ethics Code: This method entails developing a set of ethics that can provide the cornerstone for employees' behavior and a set of guidelines and principles that they can refer to when making ethical decisions.



Conclusion

In closing, I can most conclude that Mackenzie’s presentation helped me understand the world of ethics, how it varies in each industry, and how to build a website using an online website building tool. Mackenzie’s lecture was informative, engaging, experimental, and significant. Ethics is one of the pillars of an organization’s success, reputation, and brand image. Ensuring that everyone, regardless of position or seniority, follows ethics and demonstrates good moral behavior can help employees also see the significance of ethics.

NOTE: Some of the information in this blog is from the links below:

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