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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Engineering Ethics Isn't Always Black And White

Elizabeth Fernandez
Originally posted August 6, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

Dr. Stephan's has thought a lot about engineering ethics. He goes on to say that, while there are not many courses completely devoted to engineering ethics, many students now at least have some exposure to it before graduating.

Education may fall into one of several categories. Students may encounter a conflict of interest or why it may be unethical to accept gifts as an engineer. Some examples may be clear. For example, a toy may be found to have a defective part which could harm a child. Ethically, the toy should be pulled from the market, even if it causes the company loss of revenue.

But other times, the ethical choice may be less clear. For example, how should a civil engineer make a decision about which intersection should receive funds for a safety upgrade, which may come down to weighing some lives against others? Or what ethical decisions are involved in creating a device that eliminates second-hand smoke from cigarettes, but might reinforce addiction or increase the incidence of children who smoke?

Now engineering ethics may even be more important. "The advances in artificial intelligence that have occurred over the last decade are raising serious questions about how this technology should be controlled with respect to privacy, politics, and even personal safety," says Dr. Stephan.

The info is here.