Ethics - Red (Hawkins, Fall 2013)
About this class
Ethics for Science Students
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I agree with you that Cristopher Soghoian does a great job at explaining the rising issue of governmental surveillance. It is indeed quite scary to think that the number of electronic devices we use today could all be hacked to provide government surveillance. I think this is in fact just the beginning for governments, but also for the common hacker.
In his talk, Soghoian explains how most countries don’t necessarily have the funds necessary to develop their own software to hack into their citizen’s private life. Most of them instead rely on private company who sell their own software. I believe that this is the biggest threat. If a company of individuals can create software that powerful, what prevents anybody from doing so?
Another interesting speaker, Avi Rubin, talks about how no device we use an actually completely fail-safe in his talk “All your devices can be hacked” from TEDxMidAtlantic in October 2011. Basically, he explains how multiple research team at different universities have explored the different possibilities for hacking almost any devices. For example, they were able to use an iPhone placed on a table next to a keyboard and its Accelerometer to find out what was typed on the keyboard. That means a person could simply put a phone on the table where you are currently typing and find out everything you typed. They also explored the different risks associated with someone hacking into a car’s computer or even a peacemaker.
Overall, I think hacking in itself has many risks and not only from a government perspective. It is not a field that is reserved to them because of the funds needed, such as space exploration was a few decades ago.
Here is a link to Avi Rubin’s talk:
I like how you introduced the idea and subject with an objective perspective. Most of the times articles I have read in the past related to this subject are strictly negative on the subject, leaving no benefits to the internet.
I like to think of the internet as a source of knowledge and learning. There are simply too many tutorials or YouTube video teaching how to do almost everything that I don’t think we should prevent children from accessing such a wide database. However, I read an article in the Montreal Gazette from Michael Oliviera, “Canadian kids can navigate a tablet before they can tie their laces” published on February 9 of this year. It basically statistically analyzed the capabilities of children in real life situation and virtual situation. For example, there are more kids who know how to navigate on the internet than there are kids who know how to tie their own shoes, among those in the study.
I myself learn as much as I can from the internet. For example, if I need to learn how to do something I don’t know, I have the possibility to google it or watch a YouTube video explaining it. Now I think this is great, but what would happen if the world was disconnected? Any children who grew up learning essentially from the internet would probably have a hard time facing situations by himself in real life to which he would usually simply search the solution online.
However, from my own experiences, the people I have seen learning using the internet turned out to be more self-reliable than those who don’t. Then again, like you said, if the child is visiting a website which has nothing to teach, then it cannot really help them.
Here is a link to the article:
It’s interesting that you bring the contrast of intellectually disabled human and animals considered as less intelligent. I think the issue raised here is: Can we measure intelligence? There are multiple hypothetical ways of measuring intelligence, but none of them can be absolute in my opinion. Even more, if we consider a dog more intelligent than a cow, which would explain our cultural belief in eating beef but not dogs, does it mean we attribute a higher right of living to dogs? I think this would be a major issue if our society considered that smarter humans are superior to less smart humans, since even then, intelligence would be a totally subjective property.
However, I think the perspective of eating animals is more of a subjective, emotional and ethical debate rather than based solely on ignorance. Since the most common pets, that is dogs, cats, etc. usually have an emotional love connection to humans, I believe they are seen more as living beings rather than just animals. This relation brings them closer to humans than animals. In most cultures cannibalism is regarded as disgusting since it can be related to eating someone you know. It is therefore easier to identify eating pets to eating humans than to identify other animals as such.
For more information on the ethics of eating pets, I would invite you to read the following article by Kathleen Taylor, “Why we don’t eat dogs”.
Here is a link to the article:
As for myself, I think there is indeed disgust involved in eating pets, but I believe it relies more on social appearances than the act itself. But, what would someone do in a life threatening hunger situation?
I totally agree with you that free higher education is a possibility. If we look at northern European countries who already have such a system, it seems feasible. And it's true that it is a shame that people with potential are refused the access to higher education because of their financial situation.
I am currently attending school in Quebec and have just gone through the process of University applications. I have voluntarily decided to attend a University in Ontario, which costs nearly 5 times more than attending University in Quebec. I do not come from a rich family and I rely mainly on my part time job savings and scholarships to back me up. As I have been also offered admission in Quebec, my choice of a more expensive University is more personal rather than forced. I have made my decision mainly based on the quality of education I believe I can get in my field of study.
The point I am trying to make is that I don’t think a free education system is the solution. I think motivation and teaching quality are also an important factor. My main concerned is raised by a few friends of mine enrolled as I am currently in the Quebec’s CEGEPs, which is basically an intermediary school between high school and University considering that high school finishes in 11th grade here and University begins in the sophomore year. CEGEPs are mainly free and as such I know too many people who simply decided to take it easy and keep as less courses as possible in their schedule and end up spending 4-5 year of their lives while it is supposed to be 2 years. When there is no direct cost of failure, I believe motivation is much smaller. That being said, I don’t think the financial cost of failure is the best option but it’s the only one that seems to work right now. However, I believe it can also be implemented to have the adverse effects. If University is free but places in each program are limited and Universities only accept the best academic students, then the motivation should be taken care of. Although, in such a case the availability of education is far from being better since great academic performances are required to even be accepted into University.
It couldn't be truer that nowadays children and teens are exposed to the dangers of the internet more than parents can directly control. Something needs to be done and education is definitely needed from the parents. However, teenagers have a tendency to disrespect rules which may lead the solutions to not be fail proof.
As a part-time computer technician, I often help people setup their home networks, computers, tablets and cellphones. Most people don’t think there is even a risk involved in navigating the internet and that is why I always propose security measures. It is commonly known that antivirus and internet security software are almost essential for computers, however, most people think tablets and phones are inherently safe. There are actually multiple software for identity protection available at an even lower cost than standard antivirus. Most of these software also allow the parents to customize a parental control over what is viewable by their children. Almost every time I inform my customers of these possibilities, they enjoy the safety feeling that comes with it.
More testing is obviously needed before such flights can be performed. As you said, I agree that even if the whole project fails either for mechanical failure or restriction from the FAA, it will still be worth it since it is trying to create something new. Applying technologies previously reserved for governments into commercial and large public uses can only accelerate the development of such technologies. In the future, such aircraft as the SpaceShipTwo could allow extra fast air travel around the Earth, which is used in direct or indirect way by most people.
Intercontinental flights that take less than an hour would be fantastic. Someone could live in America and work in Europe. Even though this seems rather unbelievable, the only way to achieve it is to continue research in the development of supersonic aircrafts. There are currently laws that prevent commercial supersonic aircraft from passing the sound barrier over land because it disturbs people at the ground. The article “Is the future of air travel SUPERSONIC? Scientists are developing transport that travels at super-high speeds without the boom” published on January 22th, 2014 by Graham Warwick observes the different future opportunities and development of supersonic technologies. Again, the problem for such flight is also regulation since the supersonic booms sound levels are too high to be approved over land just like the FAA needs to approve Virgin’s commercial flight over security risks. I think those two similar issues about emerging travel technologies depend on sustainable development. If a first attempt succeeds then the technology is most likely to rise interest and to undergo faster development. On the other hand, if the first commercial space flight results in a catastrophe, the security measures will probably be heightened and the development will be set back. It is only a question of when it will really be ready for a complete success and making sure it won’t happen too soon to prevent a disaster.
Here is a link to Warwick’s article:
Let It Be!
My initial question is: what is art for? To whom ever it only consists of a past time seriously need to reconsider their ideology. To some art is the only way to express themselves. Haven't you ever heard, pictures speak louder than words? So as a person who appreciates art, I do not see the purpose in censoring such powerful messages. This article caught my attention because I have seen Xavier Dolan's work, and in my opinion he is the true definition of creativity. So to me it is incomprehensible to why such powerful messages, such as the one portrayed in College Boy, be censored.
Like it was asked, if I was part of a censorship office I would have no right to enforce censorship on this particular video, I would actually recommend high school teachers to show this video in their classes. Yes, it does illustrate violent scenes, which might offend parents, but thoughtfully if all anti-bullying campaigns haven’t shown significant effects on teens, what else can be done. Fortunately, Dolan was brilliant enough to come up with a different approach on bullying awareness. Like it was mentioned in the article, he made the choice to provoke individual’s reaction and personally I do think that his way of presenting bullying will have a bigger impact on our society.
In total honesty, any artwork, whether it is a painting, a video or a photograph, with an important theme should not be censored. If we are trying to inform our people on the different issues in our society, why would we censor it? Wouldn’t it simply open’s people eyes to what is really happening around us. Like it is depicted in the video, people seem to close their eyes or ignore the problems around them, but by showing these types of controversial videos it might make people realize that they are part of those people and without knowing it they do aggravate the problem. Another example of this type of issue is the “United Colors of Benetton’s UnHate” campaign, which shows different kinds of child abuse around the world. Facebook censored this campaign and if you look at it closely, most people are already aware of these problems around the world, but none of them seem to want to stand up for the cause. But by advertising this campaign, it’s a real eye opener to what needs to be done and that we need to stop ignoring the problem and fix it once and for all, similar to the College Boy video. Overall like she said “as long as it doesn't cause physical harm to someone, go against the law or anything along those lines” it shouldn’t be censored.
An interesting point that was brought up in the article was the comparison between the music video and video games. Why would we censor College Boy, but not do anything about Grand Theft Auto V? The way I see it is lets censor a factual problem in our society, but let kids kill people virtually. Does it even make sense? Is it really that shocking to see a boy get crucified or shot rather than some gruesome horror movie scene? The point that was brought up was a really interesting issue, and could be formulated in an ethical question.
Like I mentioned earlier, the campaign “United Colors of Benetton’s UnHate” is a great example of this ethical issue. In the article posted further down, shows the campaign and why it was censored.
Since I was a little girl, I grew up watching the multiple Disney movies. I wanted to be a princess as every other little girls. We can say that Disney is my childhood and that is why your article caught my attention.
You raised a question in your blog asking that although Disney insists that the princess characters are not supposed to represent any culture in reality, are we really going to believe their statement. Well, in my opinion, I do no believe this. Many princess examples can prove that Disney had used ethnic representation in their movies. As you mentioned earlier, Princess Jasmine does obviously symbolize Arabian culture due to her look; the eye color, face tint and her dressing, as well as the movie's location. Other princesses like Mulan strongly represents the Asian background, more precisely the Chinese culture. Also, Pocahontas is evidently representing the Native Americans. Although Disney states that they represent "multicultural heritage", viewers, especially little girls, will just relate them to a precise ethnic group.
Moreover, you said in the article that Disney should make "Princesses with different ethnicity's so they can better represent the women and young girls of the world". I totally agree with you. While watching Disney's Princess movies, little girls are in search of their identity through the characters. After finding a particular princess that looks like the little girl, she relates herself to the princess because of the similarity in the representation. In other words, it is true that she chooses her own princess character. That is as if it has become a trend in childhood that every girl does it. When I was young, my Disney princess was Mulan. I chose her because of the fact that we share the same origin, culture and look. Her black straight hair, dark-colored eyes, slim face... Also, because that this princess movie tells about a real Chinese story which the daughter secretly replaced her father to go to the army. Therefore, I strongly suggests that Disney should give every princess an ethnicity.
Here is another article that I found about Disney princess Sofia's issue: http://www.usatodayeducate.com/staging/index.php/ccp/disney-princess-sof...
In my newsactivism class last semester, I focused a big part of my work on gay rights, so your article was of great interest for me. The church’s view on this subject is one that is often referred to by others to answer the question of why homosexuality is wrong. It is very interesting that the new pope, while he does not say he agrees with homosexuality, does not explicitly say that it is wrong. I think this shows how humans are advancing and becoming more accepting of one another.
I think the Church should not be interfering with homosexuality. It may be said that homosexuality is wrong in the Bible and that it is unnatural, but the Church should not be telling others to not be who they are. Being gay is not something that can be cured, it is part of the person, so it is wrong to tell them not to be themselves and try to change them. It is what is natural for a gay man to love another man. What would be unnatural for them would be to try to be attracted to someone of the opposite sex. It is not the Church’s place to tell people who they should love. The Church should teach people good moral values, not encourage others to be intolerant.
For all the same reasons, it is not right for the Church to be against homosexuality. Yes, they have the right to decide what they accept and do not, but many people are guided by what the Church says, so they should try to teach people to be tolerant. As I said before, it is not their place to tell people who they should and should not love. A major value of the Church is family, so they should encourage loving couples to get married and have a family. They should not be the ones to say that a same-sex couple does not have the same rights as a straight couple.
In February, many republicans, who are often known for homophobic and very religious signed a brief supporting gay marriage. It is very interesting to see that people are growing and becoming more open to differences such as homosexuality.
I am intrigued that we do have the advanced technology to identify defects in the fetus. Even thou this technology is not yet accurate, it’s still amazing to have such progress. Thou it has its benefit, this makes us wonder if it is the right choice to birth a disabled child or not.
If I found out that my future child would develop or have a birth defect, then I would probably turn to abortion. Well this would actually depend on the severity of the birth defect. If the severity equals to a death at birth or rendering a life that is very hard live, then abortion may be considered. In the case that the severity of the defect is small or unknown, I wouldn’t turn to abortion. Since the child is able to live or has the possibility to live, he or she should have a chance to live a proper life and embrace the gift of life.
In this context, aborting a pregnancy based on disability shouldn’t be considered discrimination. By definition, discrimination is having a different attitude towards generalizing a certain group of people. In this case, it would be more about self preferences. For instances, somebody who’s friends are Asians and as he has nothing against Asians, doesn’t want to have an Asian child. That person is not discriminating; this is just about his preference about his child. In my opinion, giving the mothers the right to abortion based on the possibility of a fetus having birth defect is not necessarily considered discriminatory. The mother has the right to have her own preferences in raising a child she wants. To give birth to an unwanted child, will not bring much joy to anyone in the family. The mother has to consider the best for herself and the future child. I do agree that in the present world is not perfect for raising disabled children. Some are just unable to handle the weight in taking care of those people. There are some harsh realities where disabled children may never get to receive help to support themselves. However, this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. On the other hand, in the developed world we are able to support some of the disable to live a normal life with the advancement of the technology and the economy. The following link demonstrates an example of a child who was able to overcome her heart defect:
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