Month: October 2019

Writing 06: Corporate Conscience

I think corporations should be expected to have the same ethical and moral obligations and responsibilities as a person. However, the reason is one that may not be expected. I believe that much progress is done by those who defy the rules, and are fortunate enough to not get punished for doing so. Their actions show the world that the rules are wrong or need to be updated. How will we ever evolve if no one challenges the current state of the world? Fortunately or unfortunately, we need people who challenge the norms in order for us to adapt. I still think we need rules in place for “damage control.” If we had no standards for corporations, they would all do crazy things for profit (crazy = uncontrollable), and we wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. However, with some rules, we have the power to either let them advance (change our rules) or stop them (enforce our rules). So from that perspective, the corporation is serving to advance our rules by showing us how limiting/broken they are. My overall perspective, I think, is the belief that things resolve themselves in the long run. Either a corporation is allowed to continue what it is doing and we update our rules, or we stop them and they update their tactics. Kind of like biology, where bacteria makes the immune system stronger, corporations that break the rules make the rules stronger. However, what we cannot do is allow the bacteria to overpower the immune system, so we need some rules. Some of the readings mention the extent of Facebook’s and Google’s reach in society. These are very valid points, and as I see it, these are companies that are running on not entirely ethical means… by our standard of ethics. However, they operate under different circumstances than we can see, and maybe what they are doing is ethical in their eyes. The only true way that we can debate on something is on its overall outcome, because we may be better to better quantify it, rather than talking about abstract concepts. So, these companies are in the state of either updating themselves or updating our rules. The very nature of rules is a hindrance to innovation. Rules can be viewed as a structure that must not be touched or disturbed in any way. It is completely inconsiderate of the outside world. It will not move… until it has to. It will only move when the outside world keeps banging on it, which is a sign that something is off about the structure and we have to review it. The very nature of rules is to not move. The nature of innovation is to mix and match things in ways that were never done before. At some point, one idea will come along that does many great things but is at odds with the law in one way or another. At this point, one of the two has to move. This is how society advances.

Writing 05: Privacy vs Security

In a country where there are hundreds of millions of people, and millions coming in per year, I understand the need for the government to somehow be able to see what we do online. The internet, in my opinion, is becoming somewhat of an area that is free from rules, so to speak. You can essentially do anything you want, so long as you stay hidden under a VPN or by any other means. This brings into question, should this be the case? Should there exist an entire world where the government cannot lay down the law? I think this is a tricky situation because while we may not be too opposed to the idea of the government enforcing the law, we also don’t want to give the government too much leeway in which they may be able to abuse their newly founded powers. The government has a history of targeting whoever they deem to be malicious, but the problem is, there is no objective way of enforcing who is malicious and who is not; if the government says you are, then you are and they will paint you in such light. For this reason, I think that we have to shift from watching people all the time to only watching them when they do something wrong. However, it is impossible to predict the future and know when someone is going to break the law, so the government has to be watching in one form or another. One idea is that we could have traffic going through the government, but the source of the traffic is hidden, and only when the traffic is revealed to break the law, then the source of the traffic is revealed. This way, the government would not be able to distort innocent online activity into malicious activity because the online activity would not trigger the switch that would reveal your identity. Furthermore, there should be some kind of randomization, such that once the source of one content is revealed, the stream is shuffled so that the government cannot track the source once that instance is over. This would ensure that they cannot spy on anyone, because they would lose track of the stream that they are looking for. Furthermore, the government would not be able to issue subpoenas that force the surveillance agency to give up lawful online activity about any particular individual, because if the activity was lawful then the source is encrypted and they wouldn’t know how to get it anyway. It was mentioned in one of the readings that Apple has complied with the government in unlocking people’s Iphones if they believe that the person’s Iphone has unlawful activity. The government would no longer be able to do that, if such a service is implemented. If they want to truly only track people that break the law, I see this as one possibility that is better than an absolute Big Brother. Of course, every possibility has potential to be abused, but this very much mitigates that.

Writing 04: Whistleblowing

I believe that disasters are disasters, and they’ll happen. Disasters aren’t that bad when no one’s life is at stake. If people’s lives are at stake, and it is known, measures would be taken to carefully evaluate the situation. With Challenger, this was the case. The engineers used the term ‘acceptable risk’ to create a balance between the risk at hand and the consequences of that risk. There is room for acceptable risk. However, the circumstances at the time were certainly not anything that they’ve seen before, thus, the risk should not have been classified as an acceptable risk. I think that if the circumstances at the time were the same ones that they’ve seen before, then they should have classified the risk as an acceptable one. If this acceptable risk somehow still resulted in an explosion, it would have been justified. There is literally no way to make sure that anything is 100% risk free. Driving to work is a risk. Going down the stairs is a risk. However, these are acceptable, since there is only so much we can do to prevent the risk of something going wrong. However, the Challenger situation is not similar in this regard. They did virtually nothing to minimize the risk. On the note of Roger Boisjoly whistleblowing, I believe that it is a personal decision that you have to make. I don’t think that there is an objective universal answer to the question of whether or not we should whistleblow. I think it depends on the situation, and, very much, on the very person who is doing the whistleblowing. Whistleblowing has many implications on one’s life, that may extend beyond the organization that that person blew the whistle on. Roger was ostracized even when he went back home for what he did. Therefore, when deciding on whether or not someone should blow the whistle, you should also take into account whether or not the person would be able to handle the implications of such actions. It is not fair that someone’s life has to get screwed up all for the sake of telling the truth. In a perfect world, the whistleblower is respected even after the fact. However, we are not in a perfect world, and have to consider these very real repercussions. If someone knows that them blowing the whistle would cause them to lose a hold of their lives, they should NOT blow the whistle. For example, if they have a family to support, and them blowing the whistle leads to them never getting a job again, they should not blow the whistle. If the person may not be able to handle the emotional and mental strain of blowing the whistle, such that they may get PTSD, as was the case with Boisjoly, they should NOT blow the whistle. However, if the potential whistleblower is okay with these possible scenarios, they should blow the whistle. This is why I believe that the decision on whether or not to blow the whistle depends on the factors exterior to the person (how many people are being impacted, how bad is it) just as much as it depends on the person themselves (can I handle it, is it worth it for me).