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Exploring Ethics on a Microscopic Level


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.