Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists demand an ethical education in computer engineering

21.02.2008
Computer engineers require a solid ethical education integrating moral principles and respect for human dignity with the reality of their profession.

This is one of the conclusions of a study carried out by researchers of Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M), in which different schools of ethics susceptible to be applied to computer scientists have been analyzed as well as the consequences of the development of their profession.

Although they seem to be completely different disciplines “ethics and information technology are two fields of research which are not in conflict; in fact,, ethics cuts across all aspects of our lives, among which is information technology “, explain the authors of this study, Gonzalo Génova y Anabel Fraga, from the Computer Technology Department at UC3M. In addition, according to their research, ethics does not restrict personal freedom, but instead “it is the way we use to control our own destiny and to achieve personal growth”, points out M. Rosario González, from the Complutense University of Madrid, co-author of this study.

According to the study, there are two different schools of thought which can be applied to information technology: on one hand, the consequentialism, in which the goodness of an action resides in its consequences; on the other hand, deontologism, according to which an action is right or wrong in and of itself, independently of its consequences. According to Gonzalo Génova, “the debate adopts too frequently a caricature bent: the first are represented as fanatics, and the latter as people without scruples, because in this way it is easier to ridiculize the other from the opposing side”. Anyway, the scientists from UC3M have come to the conclusion that without a solid ethical education, the engineer “would become a mere depersonalized technical instrument in the hands of others”.

A personal ethics school of thought

Evaluating the effects of a computing programme is difficult, but according to Anabel Fraga “this complexity is not an excuse to ignore the consequences”. Faced with this issue, and after analyzing the different ethics systems, the authors have opted for a model termed “moderate deontologism”, based on rational behavior which integrates rules and consequences. For the researchers, extreme positions are neither rational nor practical, for which they conclude that the most correct ethical position is that which, without undervaluing the consequences of actions, recognizes unquestionable barriers which are indispensable in respecting human dignity.

The new degrees in Computer Engineering, which will be offered in the incoming academic year at UC3M, suppose an advance as they will adopt a cross-sectional focus of the aspects of professional ethics. However, explains Gonzalo Génova, “the subject is important enough to warrant specific intellectual and rigorous treatment; because of that, the cross-sectional focus, which is indispensible, should be combined with a specific course subject”.

The professors of professional ethics and the computer engineers often encounter two preconceived notions among their students. On one hand “they think that ethics is a matter of opinion” and on the other hand, “they believe that professional ethics consists of prohibitions or barriers”, explains M. Rosario González. Nevertheless, her point of view differs from these stereotypes, and she affirms that ethics is something that is fundamentally positive and creative, which searches for new ways of doing good actions.

Francisco Javier Alonso Flores | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bib.uc3m.es

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht ECG procedure indicates whether an implantable defibrillator will extend a patient's life
02.09.2019 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Fracking prompts global spike in atmospheric methane
14.08.2019 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: 'Nanochains' could increase battery capacity, cut charging time

How long the battery of your phone or computer lasts depends on how many lithium ions can be stored in the battery's negative electrode material. If the battery runs out of these ions, it can't generate an electrical current to run a device and ultimately fails.

Materials with a higher lithium ion storage capacity are either too heavy or the wrong shape to replace graphite, the electrode material currently used in...

Im Focus: Stevens team closes in on 'holy grail' of room temperature quantum computing chips

Photons interact on chip-based system with unprecedented efficiency

To process information, photons must interact. However, these tiny packets of light want nothing to do with each other, each passing by without altering the...

Im Focus: Happy hour for time-resolved crystallography

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.

The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.

Im Focus: Modular OLED light strips

At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.

Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...

Im Focus: Tomorrow´s coolants of choice

Scientists assess the potential of magnetic-cooling materials

Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

Society 5.0: putting humans at the heart of digitalisation

10.09.2019 | Event News

Interspeech 2019 conference: Alexa and Siri in Graz

04.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

On the trail of self-healing processes: Bayreuth biochemists reveal insights into extraordinary regenerative ability

23.09.2019 | Life Sciences

New method for the measurement of nano-structured light fields

23.09.2019 | Life Sciences

Clarification of a new synthesis mechanism of semiconductor atomic sheet

23.09.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>