Privacy, Technology and Ethics


What’s a moral operating system? Why do we need one? What are some of the options presented here? Give an example showing how they relate to privacy…
(max 500 words)


One thought on “Privacy, Technology and Ethics

  1. Megan Craig says:

    A moral operating system is the formula or guidelines by which we make ethical decisions about what to do with the power we have. It is necessary in order to be sure of our decisions, knowing that you have made the morally right one. Everyone makes these decisions, but what are the techniques we used to decide? We are taught by our parents as children, learning through praise or punishment; maybe we take a vote from others, or look at legal implications. There are multiple frameworks suggested during the TED talk. Plato’s idea was that, like math, there needs to be objective truths about justice, so there would be no matter of opinion of whether it was wrong or not. We would simply compare things to the pure form of justice to decide if they fit or not. Later, Aristotle argued that there are some topics that do not allow this amount of precision or rules, ethics being one of them. He suggested that you must make the decision only using your best judgment. Mill believed in utilitarianism; something is morally right as long as it maximizes pleasure and minimizes pain. The decision would be based on a calculation of the goodness of the potential consequences of the action. For example, stealing someone’s phone and invading their privacy would be morally just if you thought they may be a terrorist and could prevent a greater problem. Alternatively, Kant uses a deontological view and argues that the action itself will be intrinsically right or wrong. He suggests that we must figure out the rules by which we should guide our conduct, then “it is our duty to follow those rules”. In the example, it would be a morally wrong action to invade someone’s privacy, regardless of the potentially good consequences. Comparatively, utilitarianism would not consider privacy highly important if there was a greater good to come, whereas deontology would consider an invasion of someone’s privacy an intrinsically wrong action. However, when it comes to narrowing it down to just one moral framework, it is impossible. There is no single formula that can make our decisions. It has been suggested that the only way to ensure a decision is just is by human thinking, evaluation of choices, and responsibility for actions and consequences.

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