Computers are the enablers of globalization and the propelling fuel of the fifth industrial revolution, These enablers have been integrated into our daily lives and societies, they make our lives easier by providing us with means of communication, learning, buying, and enjoying. They also pose a significant threat to our moral and social values when used in unethical ways for malicious purposes like hacking, terrorism, bullying, piracy, and much more. Although these machines do have the capacity to be used for malicious purposes, but they are nothing different than a car when it comes to decision-making as they are dependent on human beings to direct them.
‘A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world’ – Albert Camus
Any question that deals with ethics is, in essence, a question of Philosophy hence Computer Ethics can be encapsulated inside practical philosophy. The history of Computer Ethics dates back to the early 1940s when an MIT professor Norbert Wiener during World War Two was led to draw some remarkably insightful ethical conclusions while working to combine cybernetics and digital computers to make an antiaircraft cannon. This was the birth of Computer Ethics as we know it.
With the rise of globalization, the world is more connected than ever before. Globalization simply means the spreading of technologies, business, culture, and social values around the Globe. This rapid development in modern societies impacts the way we live, communicate, work, and entertain. Globalization is an attempt to minimize the Regional, Cultural, Political, and Social boundaries across the Globe to make a Global Village for better functioning of Businesses and Services. The term “Computer Ethics” might sound like an oxymoron if perceived in a literal sense but the term actually means how computer professionals and people who use computers should make decisions regarding their professional and social conduct. There is nothing inherently unethical or immoral about computers, but the ethical aspect is how we put these machines to work through decision making that is dictated by our social values. One can make an informative website to provide everyone with a ton of useful information while others can use the same machine to Spam hundreds of individuals. The origin of morality can be debated but one cannot deny the reality and effects of morality, this is the very reason we live in a COSMOS and not in CAOS because everything in the Universe is uniform and bound to certain laws or principles. Similarly, if there are no professional and social principles in the field of Computing then it would collapse under its own weight.
Thanks to Globalization, I can place an order on Barnes and Noble’s (Located in the United States) in just three clicks while being all comfy on my sofa thinks the optimist whereas the pessimist would argue that doing so will expose their personal and credit card information by storing it onto a third-party server. This tug of war is a constant if we are to engage in a Rational and Scientific debate on this topic. Our aim is to explore new horizons to build a concrete understanding of Computer Ethics and its relationship with Globalization.
History of Computer Ethics is relatively new as compared to the history of Computers and little research is done in this area. While exploring different topics within Computer Ethics I realized that little to none research is done on Globalization and Computer Ethics. As a student of Computer Science, I want to explore relevant available literature and learn more about the correlation between globalization and computer ethics and its effects in general. It will help bring more clarity to our understanding of the relationship computers, ethics and globalization.
The nature of this research paper is deductive qualitative. The research uses secondary research method approach. The sources of information comprise mainly of electronic media such as books, articles, journals, blogs, etc. The purpose of the research is to review the relevant available information regarding the subject matter and provide new insights that test the current theories and practices associated with the subject matter moreover deductive reasoning is used to support the thesis.
1.Computers as Enablers of Globalization:
Computers are an unrivaled marvel of the modern age. They have dramatically expanded our access to data, information, and services around the globe. With just a computer and an internet connection, people in Pakistan can access websites and information that are placed on a server located in the United States. This expanded and excessive availability of information is a new normal in cultural homogenization, a key component of globalization, in addition to a developing interconnectedness of global communications. Computers as enablers of globalization have helped in creating new job market for freelancers and content creators, helped driving down prices of goods and services while significantly increasing quality due to high competition. Computers have also promoted freedom of speech and raised awareness about various social and cultural issues like corruption, racism, women rights and climate change.
2.Positive effects of Computer Enabled Globalization:
Globalizations has brought revolutionary social change by uniting the whole world. It impacts a common man’s life by altering their way of living. Now everything is in common man’s fingertips. There is no hindrance in their way of communicating to the people of the world, to share each other’s cultural, economic, political, and educational knowledge. Eventually this thought of mind develops flexibility in people that lives in different parts of the world to accept and celebrate the differences. The most significant change that is brought by the globalization is E-learning, now people can access to different online learning platforms that help them to attain every sort of knowledge that includes history, psychology, mathematics, languages, businesses, theoretical sciences, religions, arts, social sciences and interpersonal, computer, management, leadership, and problem-solving skills. Etc. These learnings platforms are dealt with their learners with integrity and authenticity. Another prominent wonder of globalization is an online business that enables the people of the world to enjoy the diversity of the electrical, mechanical, edible, clothing, educational and medical products, etc. It has made everything at ease for common people and influences the economies of the world. Most of the world billionaires are associated with online business for instance Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. You can order food, taxi service and much more with just a click. It is fair to say that computers have made our live easy and hassle free. People from all around the world are exchanging ideas to explore new horizons and collaborate on research projects related to applied, social and pure sciences.
3.Negative effects of Computer Enabled Globalization:
So far, we have only explored the positive side of computer enabled globalization, but we must not miss out on the counter-perspective. Sadly, the list of negative effects is bigger than the list of positive effects and one often get lost in thought “from where to start” when it comes to negative effects of computer enabled globalization. I would start with darknet, the hottest place for online black markets. You can literally do any illegal activity on the darknet without blowing away your identity. The darknet is a small and darkest part of the deep web. Deep web makes up 90 percent of the web and cannot be found via regular browsers and search engines. It requires onion-routing browsers (TOR and BRAVE) and special search engines (Hidden Wikis). You can buy pretty much everything on the darknet included but not limited to human organs, illegal drugs, hacking services, stolen identities, fake visas, stolen credit cards and child pornography. The darknet uses crypto currencies as their primary means of exchange. It is very hard to track down crypto transactions and since crypto currencies since they are de-centralized and use mixing algorithms to remove any sort of fingerprints from the transactions.
The second main problem is piracy and violation of intellectual property. Can you imagine putting in hundreds of hours and a lot of resources to your project and then you see it on a Torrenting site for free. How would you feel? Probably heart broken and demotivated. This is the case with most of the high-demand applications and other content as they are being pirated and shared online without the permission of the author. Billions of dollars are being lost due to piracy of software, books and movies each year. Many world agencies are trying to hunt-down people behind these piracy sites and shut-down these sites for good, but these sites use DMCA ignore sandbox hosting servers that are virtually impossible to track down. Even if one is able to get into these servers, they can only shut down these sites and cannot track down the people behind them. In final analysis, the war on piracy is far from won and the Global community needs to work hand in hand to stop piracy of digital goods.
Another problem is cyber-bullying, cyber-harassment and child abuse. I have listed these together because of all of these are co-related to each other. E-Socializing is the new normal in the 21st century as it transcends cultural, social, political and regional boundaries. Once people from different backgrounds and ideologies are bought together on a platform it creates a buffer-zone for debate, rigorous argumentation and slander which eventually leads to cyber-bullying and cyber-harassment. Social-Networking sites are also used as a relation making tool for pedophiles as they approach children through these sites and manipulate them to make sexual relations. This sort of stuff is very disturbing, and therefore parents are also advised to keep a check on their children.
I am going to provide a single deductive argument to make my case. In a deductive argument if all Premises are Ture then the conclusion logically follows to be True as well.
- Premise A: A computer is an electronic machine; a non-living thing without any conscious and personality.
- Premise B: A computer don’t have the capacity to make decisions on its own; it follows some sort of algorithm to make decisions.
- Premise C: Even Artificial-Intelligent systems follow algorithms to make intelligent decisions.
From the above literature review, discussion and argumentation we can clearly conclude that Computers have many ethical and unethical (Positive and Negative) uses and computers are inherently neutral, it depends on how humans use these dumb machines for ethical and unethical purposes. If we work together with each other, we can develop a certain definite code of conduct that is called global computer ethics that are required to be followed by every user to maintain the standard of online globalization. These computer ethics tries to embed general ethics in people in order to promote morality among them like dealing with customers with courtesy, take care of these privacy, boycott darknet markets, and violating intellectual property rights. The way ahead is very difficult and distant, but we can achieve this with mutual cooperation and persistence.
- T.W Bynum, American Philosophical Association’s Newsletter on Philosophy and Computing. 2000. A Very Short History of Computer Ethics. Retrieved January 22, 2000. Retrieved from https://www.cs.utexas.edu/~ear/cs349/Bynum_Short_History.html
- Robert N. Barger, Computer Ethics: A Case-based Approach. 2008. Retrieved 2008. Retrieved from Text Book
- Robert A. Schultz, Woodbury University. 2008. Information Technology and the Ethics of Globalization. Retrieved 2008. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert_Schultz6/publication/237112227_Information_Technology_and_the_Ethics_of_Globalization/links/5729f62908ae2efbfdbc10f7/Information-Technology-and-the-Ethics-of-Globalization.pdf
- G. Stamatellos. Semantic Scholar. 2007. Computer ethics – a global perspective. Retrieved 2007. Retrieved from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Computer-ethics-a-global-perspective-Stamatellos/b1569de380bd4290298b12cfc9fc317378f56d3f#paper-header