Computer Ethics

The impact of computers and other information technologies on society is of a magnitude matched by few other technologies in history. Not only have they revolutionized the ways in which individuals interact with one another, but they have also significantly changed entire sectors of the economy: health care, communication, transportation, national security, etc. In his 1985 article, “What is Computer Ethics?”, now a foundational piece in the field, James Moor describes computers as logically malleable because they can be programmed to do anything that can be described in terms of inputs, outputs, and logical operators. The implication of this, Moore argues, is that the limits of computers are only constrained by logic and human creativity.

While it is the malleability of computers that makes the once unimaginable reality, it is also this characteristic that gives rise to many ethical challenges. Some of these challenges include: the impact of computers on employment, computer-related crime and information security, the privacy and anonymity of individuals using computing technologies and of those whose information is stored within them, intellectual property rights to computer code, the professional responsibilities of computing professionals, and the governance of global networks that transcend geographic, political, and social boundaries.