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A key theme throughout our text, "The Gift of Fire", is how advances in technology have reframed many ethical issues. Many of these issues have deep historical roots, and technology has accelerated their impact. Technology has also introduced novel ethical dilemmas that challenge traditional ethical philosophies. For example, the potential for fully autonomous vehicles and the AI behind them has shed new light on the traditional Trolley Problem.
On the Lecture Notes page you will find some current stories that present ethical dilemmas related to information technology. An ethical dilemma is not a simple choice between right or wrong. An ethical dilemma often involves trade-offs between two (or more) values we hold, such as telling the truth or protecting a friend; or it involves a choice between two (or more) unpleasant options (the lesser of evils). The author of our text, Sara Baase, has also provided a list of possible topics to explore for a final report at: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/giftfire/papertopics.html.
Choose a topic to write about, with the article as a starting point for your research. The links are provided to give you an overview of the case, but it's expected that you will do additional research on your own. You should trace the historical roots of the underlying ethical questions, and define what values and issues are at stake, and how they might be viewed from different perspectives. You can use the Deontological/Utilitarian framework, the Rights Vs. Obligations framework, or even the framework proposed by the documentary we watched (respect for self, reality, community, life, and future). Pay attention to the arguments made in support of a position or policy. Do you recognize any of the common "bad arguments" discussed in class?
Your paper should also demonstrate how technology has reframed the topic. Has technology accelerated unethical behavior, or served to curtail it, and how? Has it introduced new features previously unanticipated? Has technology recast the ethical dilemma in some way? How does the new dilemma affect society, the economy, and individuals? You may then "take a side", endorsing a particular assessment, or proposing a resolution of your own.
Your essay should be 1000-1500 words ( approx. 2-3 pages), not including figures or citations. Do not cite dictionaries or encyclopedias. You may use whatever citation format you prefer, be it MLA, APA, etc. You should have 3 - 6 high-quality citations. The prose format is single space, 12 point text, Times New Roman font, 3/4 inch margins. You will submit the essay through Blackboard's SafeAssign. As a standard we use MS Word (not .pdf, .rtf, or .txt files), and your essay should be attached to your Blackboard submission form (as .doc or .docx files), not copied into the text submission field. The paper should have a title, but sections and subsections are up to you. A strong paper has an introduction or overview which contains the thesis, a background for context, the body of the paper in which you build a case for your thesis, and a conclusion that ties it all together.
Of course, spelling and grammar count. You should have a colleague proofread your paper for obvious mistakes. I hope you enjoy the research and writing of the paper - it will help the quality of the paper a lot if you do.
A key theme throughout our text, "The Gift of Fire", is how advances in technology have reframed many ethical issues. Many of these issues have deep historical roots, and technology has accelerated their impact. Technology has also introduced novel ethical dilemmas that challenge traditional ethical philosophies.