The question of right and wrong is never black and white, but the general public associates the question of ethics in the same category. Type “right and wrong” in Google and it automatically generates “right and wrong ethics”. It was not too long ago someone asked me “what is the difference between ethics and morals in making decisions?”. According to the Oxford Dictionaries ethics are “moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior” and morals are “a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do”. After examining this topic I came to the conclusion that the morals change ethics. Ethics are the derivative of morals. When technology is introduced to the question of ethics, it adds a new dimension to analyze.
As I was writing this topic, I was questioning the cost of each Google search I made to seek information on this topic. Currently, anytime the public uses Google they agree to give up information that Google can use for any commercial purpose. I cannot remember the exact number of Google searches I made today, but I bet it is over fifty. If every time Google gathers my search, location, language, links clicked, duration spent on link, and who exactly knows what else is collected; that makes me one valuable customer. The interesting part of this is that I am completely fine with this, because I agree to use this service free in exchange for my information. I find it fascinating that my information is in its own way a form of currency. Not only is my concrete information valuable, but my opinions provide another set of information. Even if my opinions change a month later, my opinion at that instant assists in creating information that someone saw value in.
Monetizing information is not a new concept, but trying to have complete right over natural *information *is an ethical issue according to all nine United States Supreme Court judges. Almost a year ago, a company based out of Utah called Myriad Genetics tried to patent rights to the human genes. This was an odd concept to me because the human DNA is the blueprint to our lives and trying to patent something that all humans are born with is strange. This case was taken to the United States Supreme Court and the ruling was a unanimously vote stating that the human gene is not patentable.
It is tough for me to think about technological ethics without considering the energy supply of the future, which I think are renewables. Then I wonder how far in the future renewables are going to out-supply the world’s growing energy demand of hydrocarbons. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) hydrocarbons currently, make up about 85% of the global energy need; by 2035, that percentage – according to predictions – will not fall below 70%. I believe renewables are coming and in the meantime, hydrocarbons have to continue to supply this global need. The bad news here is that “easy oil” does not exist anymore. In the last ten years energy companies have spent 400% more in exploration cost with only seeing 15% increase in production. These struggles are pushing the industry to seek new methods which might raise questions of concerns from people outside the industry who don’t fully understand the science.
From political opinions, medical actions, to energy security concerns, our morals are manipulated based on factors of environmental exposure. This exposure can consist of personal religious beliefs, geographic location, occupation, financial state, and family. Once our morals are established, it comes an integrated form of our autonomy mindset where our decisions are almost an involuntary action. If our morals are challenged with technological norms of society, we feel edgy, even though it might have benefits to it. Our ethical views as society are influencing our morals or what is acceptable and what should be rejected. Various forms of media around the world have become easier to read, watch, and share. The exposure to this information is breaking down ethical boundaries that once existed. Information is power, but what information is right or wrong is where the grey area sits.
**Well that, my friend, is where the beauty of our diversity is; our morals will have to play a role. **