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Cis 324

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Explain computer ethics

Computers are special technology and they raise some special ethical issues. In this essay I will discuss what makes computers different from other technology and how this difference makes a difference in ethical considerations. In particular, I want to characterize computer ethics and show why this emerging field is both intellectually interesting and enormously important. On my view, computer ethics is the analysis of the nature and social impact of computer technology and the corresponding formulation and justification of policies for the ethical use of such technology. I use the phrase "computer technology" because I take the subject matter of the field broadly to include computers and associated technology. For instance, I include concerns about software as well as hardware and concerns about networks connecting computers as well as computers themselves. A typical problem in computer ethics arises because there is a policy vacuum about how computer technology should be used. Computers provide us with new capabilities and these in turn give us new choices for action. Often, either no policies for conduct in these situations exist or existing policies seem inadequate. A central task of computer ethics is to determine what we should do in such cases, i.e., to formulate policies to guide our actions. Of course, some ethical situations confront us as individuals and some as a society. Computer ethics includes consideration of both personal and social policies for the ethical use of computer technology. Now it may seem that all that needs to be done is the mechanical application of an ethical theory to generate the appropriate policy. But this is usually not possible. A difficulty is that along with a policy vacuum there is often a conceptual vacuum....

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