Businesses today are technology and innovation driven. There is huge competition in the sphere and therefore like other industry or business function ethics is essential here also. Specially because ethics by itself is only a tool to create and doesnâ€™t know ethics or morals!
Every day we have innovative products and services that announce their arrival in the market place and others that go obsolete. It is this technology and innovation that leads to ethical issues, considering the competition to stay ahead by innovating is immense. Issues like data mining, invasion to privacy, data theft and workplace monitoring are common and critical.
In technology we speak of ethics in two contexts; one is whether the pace of technological innovation is benefiting the humankind or not, the other is either severely empowering people while choking others for the same. Technology, for example, has drastically replaced people at work.
In the first case we are compelled to think about the pace at which technology is progressing. There are manifold implications here, be it things like computer security or viruses, Trojans, spamâ€™s that invade the privacy of people or the fact the technology is promoting consumerism.
Nowadays data storage is primarily on computer systems. With the advent of internet technology the world has got interconnected and data can be accessed remotely by those who are otherwise unauthorized to do the same. This is one of the pitfalls of innovation. The other one i.e. the pace of technological change also raises the question of ethics.
New products make their way and leave the existing ones obsolete. In fact technological change and innovation is at the heart of consumerism, which is bad for economy and environment in general. The recent economic downturn makes up for a very good example.
Increasingly technological products are adding up to environmental degradation. Computer screens, keyboards, the ink used in the printers are some of the ways in which technology is polluting the environment. All these produce toxins that cannot be decomposed easily.
The other major issue in technology that brings in ethics is interface between technology and the computers. Many scientists are of the opinion that the world will come to an end with a war between the humankind and the technology. Technology they say will advance to an extent beyond the control of those who have made it!
No doubt technology has replaced people at work and made certain others redundant. On the flip side many people have been raised to power while others have been severely handicapped. The latter is especially true for third world countries. New manufacturing processes that are outsourced either replace manpower there or either exploits the latter in the name of employment by engaging them cheaper prices.
Technology has also made inroads into the field of medicine and life care. New cloning techniques, genetic modifications or other life saving drugs need continuous monitoring and surveillance. Bioethics has thus emerged as ethics in the field of medical technology.
Whereas we cannot talk of controlling technology and innovation, the better way is to adapt and change. The role of ethics in technology is of managing rather controlling the same. Continuous monitoring is required to keep track of latest innovations and technological changes and for ensuring fair practices.