Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision Making USC Student Competition entries:
A New Ethical Frontier of Software
Computer systems have become pervasive in modern society. They increasingly handle sensitive information and control critical infrastructure, which has led to concerns about security. A substantial number of recent security vulnerabilities and compromises have human error as a contributing factor. While much discussion and research have been done on how to reduce human error in cybersecurity through education and awareness, the role of ethical user interface design in reducing human error should not be overlooked. The design and implementation of user interfaces are only partially driven by technical constraints and must consider significant behavioral and ergonomic factors. Effective user interface design requires subjective judgments and decisions, often with tradeoffs and conflicting goals. Given the sometimes severe negative outcomes of cybersecurity failure, this decision-making process should be guided by ethical principles. The use of ethical principles in analyzing human factors in aviation can serve as a specific guiding example to user interface design. The study of human factors in aviation has been extraordinarily successful in improving aviation safety, and this model should inspire similar improvement in cybersecurity.
Cameron & Kyle Borch
Automation and the Future of Manufacturing
When automation and manufacturing jobs are described together, it’s usually not in a good context. People are afraid that automation will make even more jobs disappear, just as the global economy and cheap labor have pushed and continue to push jobs overseas. While most of the current attention in manufacturing focuses on the ethics of environmental responsibility, labor practices, and consumer safety, this paper examines the ethics of automation and its effect on the future of manufacturing. In particular, we look at manufacturing from a historical perspective – where technological improvements and the necessity to remain competitive have come at the expense of the working class – to understand the ethical dilemma between technology and automation, and jobs and manufacturing.
Why Ethics Bias in Corporate Sustainability Reporting protects firms from being accountable for negative environmental impacts?
Why Ethics Bias in Corporate Sustainability Reporting protects firms from being accountable for negative environmental impacts? Abstract: In October 1987, a report named “Our Common Future” was introduced by United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). This report established the urgency to address future environmental threats, originating from the unsustainable way human society was moving. The report demanded an urgent shift towards sustainable development, warning about the irreversible environmental impacts. Given that the industrial revolution was a major reason that we started damaging natural environment at an unprecedented rate, industries and corporate organizations started to respond to this sustainability-inclusion demand with corporate sustainability reporting. Most of the early sustainability reports were from environmentally sensitive industry, like chemicals: to inform the stakeholders how the firms felt morally responsible to care for the environment. To this date, firms are showcasing how vigilant they are towards environmental sustainability, establishing that they feel an ethical obligation towards the environment.
Second Best? Equity in Public Policy Decision Making
Equity in Public Policy Decision-making. It is an article that will explore the ethical dilemma inherent in enacting policies that promote inequality and challenge the thinking that treats inequality as a separate, secondary issue to be solved later.
Removing Confederate Monuments, The Ethical Debate
Starting with the murder by Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina of nine African American parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist, symbols of hate, bigotry, and slavery were pushed to be removed (Leib & Webster, 2004; Satris, 2002). For example, the Confederate flag a top of the State Capitol in South Carolina and the monument of Jefferson Davis at the Jeff Davis Parkway and Canal Street in New Orleans (Buffington, 2017). More recently, the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia between Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacist, Anti-fascist demonstrators and Black Lives Matter protesters, 3 lives were lost. This included one protester being run over by a car driven by a white supremacist which inflamed the debate to bring down civil war monuments. However, 62% of the public at the time, including President Donald Trump, disapproved of efforts to remove statues commemorating the Confederacy (Street, 2017). The purpose of this essay is to contextualize the ethical movement of Confederate monuments from a public policy debate. First, we discuss the historical use of Confederate symbols. Secondly, we consider the historical efforts to remove them. Next, we examine the current state of removal. Finally, we deliberate and apply ethical arguments to Confederate symbols.
Amir Assadieskandar & Golnaz Kamalinia
Ethical Considerations in the Future of the Pharmaceutrical Industry
Unanticipated ethical considerations revolving around the future of technology
For my work, I am going to focus on the following aspects of the future of pharmaceutical industry and its intersection with society:
1. Ups and downs of consumer focused pharmaceutical industry and patient directed competitive space: Although the patients are the main consumers of the pharmaceutical products, they have minimal role in directing the competitive space. In fact, physicians and clinical staff are the main group who are determining the condition of pharmaceutical market. This situation is however changing and the patients are finding a more significant role in the competitive space of pharmaceutical products. This shift has its own downs and ups specially because of the risk of having limited or inaccurate clinical knowledge by a major group patients and the higher risk of them getting manipulated by advertisement strategies. In my work, I am going to address this concern and to provide some solutions for managing this emerging situation.
2. The ethical considerations in widespread use of biotechnology products: Nowadays, new biotechnology products and in particular monoclonal antibodies are developed for many different human health conditions from advanced stages of cancer to skin or gastrointestinal disorders. Can this huge increase in introducing new agents to pharmaceutical market result in an improvement in healthcare system or the financial considerations of the pharmaceutical industry is the main driving force behind this shift? I am going to discuss this question in my work and propose possible solutions for managing this emerging condition.
3. Automation of pharmaceutical industry and the resulted ethical concerns: Like any other industrial field, automation in pharmaceutical industry has its own advantages and disadvantages. The difference of this industry however is that this is a very critical field in which a minor mistake may cause a disaster and may affect millions of people life and health. The special ethical concerns in this area would also be discussed in my work.
Pablo Pozas Guerra
The Slippery Ethics Surrounding The Water Bottling Industry's Sustainability Challenge
Varunya Ilanghovan and Brenae Zanders
Fairness and Equity Issues with Ethical Implications
Every nation of the world deals with issues of social stratification and discrimination of minorities. There have been continuous efforts to deal with this disparity. Some argue that this has come at the cost of the majority rights and interest. We believe that we need to hold an unbiased dialogue from both positions with strict pertinence to the current status quo is essential. In a world that refuses to compromise. We think that it’s about time that this dialogue begins. Brenae Zanders, an African American female veteran, has benefited immensely from policies in favor of the minority such as United States Affirmative Action. On the other hand, I an Indian native of India’s forward class have been impacted by systems that excluded the majority such student selection based on the Indian Caste System. We desire to come together, research both models, and create a dialogue about this. This project will be done with the hopes that we can come to a common consensus and stand in one’s own truth while honestly and genuinely acknowledging the other.
Artificial Intelligence in Real Time Decision-Making
Niraj Kumar Kumar
‘Karmanye vadhika raste, Ma phaleshu kadachana' is a famous verse from Bhagvad Gita, the Hindu holy book. In that, Lord Krishna explains the theory of Karmas to Arjuna, a warrior. The meaning of the verse is to have faith in your actions (Karma) and never anticipate about the fruits those actions can result into. This thinking can sublime into business ethics, whose importance is seldom incorporated in a profit-making landscape. With the advent of modernization and technological convergence, why is ethics not a focal point of business development? Are today’s companies or the creator of value considering the intrinsic significance of ethics? Business Ethics can turn out to be an integrator of solving problems at Political, Economic, Social, Technological and Cultural levels and more. Its deployment and impact can change the face and fate of any industry.
Davi Lyra Leite
How to Deal With Trade-Offs That Appear in the Endeavor for Equality in Healthcare Systems?
Every single person is different. Every single patient will have different medical needs and react to treatments in a different manner. A system designed to promote total equality tends to fail at identifying the trade-offs associated with medical treatments, with personal choices, and especially to address the different needs and values of people. Hence, we are left with some questions: to which extent we should strive for a system that aims at promoting equal outcomes when the patient population is completely different? To which extent should a society be allowed to limit the behavior of people in order to achieve a set of desired outcomes? Who should be selecting the desired outcomes and imposing them on people? Should we allow differences in access to care as long as there are no cost to others? Or should we consider this difference immoral because it would be a sign of inequity? These questions involve deep moral and ethical considerations, especially regarding the difference in values that people will present. In a world where the debate on public policy is usually superficial, acknowledging the existence of deeper concerns is essential in the pursuit of a more ethically sensitive society.
The Ethics of California's Cap-and-Trade Program
On July 25, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 398, extending the state’s signature cap-and-trade climate change legislation through 2030. The extension was hailed as a bipartisan victory in the wake of a retreat by the Federal government on climate change policy. However, some environmentalists and the environmental justice community lobbied against AB 398, saying it didn’t go far enough and gave too much power to industry and polluters, despite the simultaneous passage of a companion bill meant to address local air quality concerns. Cap-and-trade is a hallmark of California’s environmental policy, but is it fair and ethical from the perspective of all members of our society? This paper will examine the ethics and trade-offs of this legislation and explore the implications of cap-and-trade for communities who face the greatest health risks from pollution.
Ethical Ramifications of Corporate Social Responsibility
Increasing interconnectedness between countries and lessened restrictions on the flow of capital have allowed for businesses to become increasingly global. Simultaneously, the challenges of managing relationships between communities and corporations have increased due to increased diversity in cultures and locations. One method of forging relationships with communities has been corporate social responsibility, in which corporations use private funds, resources, and influence to achieve public benefits. This has had successes in increasing access to education and improving communities’ quality of living but has also brought corporations into roles where they are making political decisions or advancing political agendas. The two – community improvements and increasing politicization – are intertwined and present both great opportunities and significant ethical concerns. The goal of this submission is to provide an objective evaluation of both the benefits and downsides of corporate social responsibility to society.
When Eliminating Bias Isn't Fair: Analytics, Algorithms, and the Justice Paradox
The perceived fairness of decision-making procedures is a key concern for organizations, particularly when evaluating employees and determining personnel outcomes. New technologies have created opportunities for increasing fairness and impartiality. In particular, because human decision makers are known to exhibit biases, researchers and practitioners alike are turning to data analytics as a promising alternative that could foster stronger perceptions of fairness. However, while existing theory generally supports this line of reasoning, we argue that it overlooks the possibility that the use of analytics violates the norms of procedural justice by causing employees to feel reduced to quantifiable attributes, stripping away the qualitative aspects of their human nature. Results from two laboratory experiments (N = 388) and a large-scale field experiment (N = 1,654) provide support for this theory by demonstrating that people view decisions determined by analytics as less fair than identical decisions made by human evaluators. Moreover, this perceived unfairness significantly reduced reported organizational commitment among employees. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings and highlight a number of potential long-term implications for how people will perceive and react to analytics as they become increasingly commonplace in organizations.
Driving the Future: Tesla's Quandary with Semi-Autonomous Vehicles
It's likely that other companies that are working on autonomous vehicles will also be included in the case (i.e. Ford, Google, Volvo). The basis for this case is the legal and ethical gray areas that exist for companies releasing imperfect technology for autonomous vehicles. For instance, Tesla had originally intended to release self-driving software only once it had achieved full autonomy. However, the company prematurely released the semi-autonomous "Autopilot" software after realizing that automotive fatalities are "one death every 89 million miles [and] Autopilot miles will soon exceed twice that number and the system gets better every day." (source) Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, felt that it was a moral imperative to release the software despite its imperfections and the legal liability to which it exposed his company because the data showed that it would save a significant number of lives overall. Later that year, the public became aware of the first known death resulting from a crash involving a Tesla with Autopilot enabled.
When is it OK to Lie to Your Parents About Your Health?
As a society, we currently face a trending obsession with privacy. With the amount of technology, resources, and policy change involving the protection of our personal information, the rise of novel ethical debates is inevitable. I'm interested in the intersection of privacy and healthcare, and how that relationship changes when parents of the patient get involved. Are parents entitled to be privy to their children’s health information? Does age matter? How does guilt play a role? These are the questions I seek to answer concerning a topic that is increasingly relevant for all age groups.
Ethical Implications of Quantum Computers
The strangeness of quantum mechanics to being used to build more powerful and secure computers and communication techniques. While still in its infancy, quantum computers are maturing quickly. Quantum computers can break the cryptographic systems that we rely on everyday but also provide methods of communication that are unbreakable. It has already been speculated that quantum computers might have a big impact on pharmaceutical and energy production. However, the access to them will undoubtedly restricted by wealth and know-how. Just like nuclear power, quantum computer will deepen the asymmetry between the have-alls and have-nots of the world. This potential make the world better and more secure also comes with the ability to make it unequal and dangerous. The ethical questions surrounding quantum power should be considered before it changes our world irreversibly and yet they remain largely unexplored. My presentation will raise some such ethical questions and attempt to answer them.
We live in an era where people get their news by listening to short sound bites or reading headlines or tweets and thinking they have context. This has put additional pressure on journalists, hopefully forcing them to opt for the most detailed headlines and noteworthy sound bites, rather than ones that will just grab people's attention but may be a bit misleading. It is also a time when anyone can write blogs/articles online, which has perhaps blurred the line of who qualifies as a journalist and aided in discrediting much of the mainstream media. I would love to explore this current landscape to examine the media and its vital influence on our society. It is more essential than ever to have journalistic ethics in this world.
Suman Balagere Ramaiah
Human Future and the Ethical Implications of the Unattended Problem of Space Debris
Within just a few decades, we humans have spun technology all around the Earth and then spun our life around technology. Technology has fundamentally changed our lives and is undeniably our strength as a species; however, bearing roots in Science it also inherits both constructive & destructive vulnerabilities of science.
Today, network of satellites connect the neural networks of our society. Global socio-economico-polictical dependency on the satellites is immensely critical. This generation has only seen digital world. But have we pushed it to the limits? Haven’t we learnt lessons of sustainable growth yet? NewSpace has kindled a corporate space-race and everyone is all set to cut their piece of the Space-pie. But is our society ethically sensible to understand the impending danger of Space Debris on the face of humanity’s future? It’s such a problem that is so pressing and exponentially growing, also might reach a tipping point if no action is taken on a global scale, by the end of this decade. Who will speaks for space? No country, no corporation seems to be ethically sensible or legally bound with boundless space. Who’d be accountable for all the mess that might sooner than later obscure our future generation’s access to space? And leave us humans stranded to Earth?
Are we as a society ethically sensible enough to come together and pay the bill? Cleaning Space is a costly business that private industries aren’t ready to volunteer any sooner. Governments are blaming and poking each other. While some even maintain that, we should perhaps preserve those satellites for their technological heritage and historical value to human species.
The problem of space debris brings the future of entire human species at the ethical intersection of technology, society, business and Public policy. Human Space frontier demands an ethically sensible society, an ennobling business leadership and equivocal global policy decision at the earliest! Human Space frontier demands an ethically sensible society, an ennobling Business leadership and equivocal global policy decision at the earliest!
Predicting Future Ethical Scandals in Business
I will be using ethical scandals from the past 10 years to produce a predictive model which can produce a probability on how likely a business is to have an ethical scandal within a certain time period. Also I will be looking to study the level of management which this scandal is most likely to occur.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: A Procreative Right or Responsibility
Last semester, I took the course GESM 121: Ethics of Science and Technology, with Professor Elisa Warford. For my final term paper, I wrote an ethical research paper titled "Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: A Procreative Right or Responsibility?" Professor Warford informed me of this competition and suggested I take the term paper I wrote for the class and continue fine tuning it for the competition.
In my paper, I examine the ethical issues surrounding the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) embryo selection via the method of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Given that the capabilities of PGD will inevitably improve in coming years, the ethical questions surrounding the procedure are increasingly relevant—and the answers will set important policy precedents. The main question explored in this paper—one to which no consensus has yet been reached in the biomedical community—is: how far does the procreative autonomy of parents extend in regards to the procedure of PGD? Do parents not only have a right but also an ethical responsibility to use the latest genetic enhancement technologies—such as PGD—available to them in their procreation decisions? I examine these issues through the lenses of various ethical frameworks before arriving at my own conclusion.
The Physical Presence of the Cloud: an Analysis of the Internet Infrastructure
My project will aim to research the relationship between technology and society. More specifically, I am interested in exploring the ethical issues of privacy and data. These issues have a easy to digest perception in the media, however there are many underlying decisions that shape society. I'd like to question and challenge what is acceptable on behalf of government and private entities. Instead of a good and bad side, I hope to present a more nuanced understanding of the prevalent issue.
How the Social License Model Impacts Efficiency in Nonprofits
In the nonprofit sector, there is an increased emphasis by stakeholders in communities to have a social license. Having a social license in the nonprofit sector means that you are authentic, and you have built trust in your community. It is crucial for nonprofits to have a social license when assisting disadvantaged populations, especially ethnic minorities.
However, sometimes showing true care and honest initiative is not enough to develop a social license, which ultimately creates a disheartening experience for people in organizations who truly want to help, but are not validated by the community they want to serve. On the contrary, it helps ward off people who just want to look or feel good about themselves, by exploiting communities they have no right to intimately interact with.
One may ask what are the pros and cons with the social license model? A social license model acts as an important check and balance system for people in a given organization, but can also hinder its’ efficiency. The social license aids efficiency when it acts as an ethical defense tool against insincere people. Yet it can also hinder efficiency if the community shuns individuals that have all the right tools and skills to make an impact.
In my reflection of the social license model in the nonprofit sector, I will explore how this ethical tool hinders and helps nonprofits by highlighting its functionality and difficult gray areas.
Fairness Vs. Personal Dignity: Where do Transgender Athletes Fall in a Sports-Culture that Revoles Around the Gender Binary
On February 25th, 2017, 17-year-old Mack Beggs won the Texas state girls wrestling championship—sparking national controversy. The controversy arose because Beggs is a transgender boy who dominated over his female opponents after having been barred from competing in the boys’ league. Many of Beggs’ opponents contested that it was unfair they had to compete against a boy—in fact, several of his opponents forfeited before even stepping onto the mat. Indeed, even Beggs wanted to compete in the boys’ league, but Texas state law requires
wrestlers to compete against their own sex, which is determined by an athlete’s birth certificate. This case highlights an important ethical dilemma that is part of a much larger national discussion about transgender rights. Should Beggs be allowed to compete in the boys’ league— the gender he identifies as—or should he be required to compete in the girls’ league—the sex he was assigned at birth? As with many ethical dilemmas, consideration of the issue raises further questions when extrapolating the issue to the national scale.
The scope of this essay will involve two distinct discussions: (A) the ethical dilemma that pertains directly to Beggs’ right to compete as a high school trans-athlete and, (B) A similar scenario but extrapolated to a more general scale that encompasses both female-to-male and male-to-female trans-athletes. This distinction is made because what might be the most ethical resolution in Beggs’ scenario is not necessarily the ethical option for the general case, which is discussed in further detail in a later section.
Can Coworkers be Facebook Friends?
This video will bring to light issues of real-time social media exchanges and work place ethics. The audience will be able to relate to the characters and the ethic decision-making that comes to play.
Viterbi Conversations in Ethics
Viterbi Conversations in Ethics (VCE) is an educational forum for reasoned, informed, and relevant discussion of engineering ethics. Written, edited, and published by USC Viterbi School of Engineering students, Viterbi Conversations in Ethics will publish exceptional student work and responses, counter-points, and new perspectives from both peers and professionals. As an online publication, Viterbi Conversations in Ethics will feature content including: volumes of five to six papers representing various engineering disciplines, current engineering ethics represented in the news, practice ethical dilemmas and case studies, and links to relevant resources such as engineering codes. VCE is currently run by a group of student editors and web designers, with great advice from our faculty advisor Professor Martha Townsend.
Rosalyn Van Buren
Trade-Offs and an Ethical Dilemma Regarding Black Lives Matter, Policing Football
My submission would focus on a case study exhibiting a real life decision that involves trade-offs and an ethical dilemma regarding Black Lives Matter, Policing and Football. How have these organizations intertwined in a way that one could argue resulted with adverse impacts from action, based on moral principals. My approach would include a premise of emotional intelligence, unity and peace.
I served on the City of Sacramento Racial Profile Commission and Sacramento Community Police Commission at the beginning of the "taking a knee" controversy with Kaepernik, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, taking a stand by not standing for the National Anthem. Our Commission received much scrutiny from Black Lives Matter which included protest, shut down of city council meetings and picketing at private residences. The Sacramento Community Police Commission was established for the purpose of providing recommendations to the mayor and city council based on bias-free policing and the implementation, evaluation, and sustainability of efforts intended to strengthen community-police relations. Serving on the Transparency Ad Hoc Committee. Our objectives included:
* Engage the community to determine what type of information they would like to see/hear from SPD and what information can be shared that would help the community feel more informed and add a level of transparency to the police/community relationship.
* Determine what would be a good way to engage the community/family after a critical incident.
Even with intense controversy our commission was able to produce positive deliverables. I feel a case study including brief history of the desegregation of football, our National Anthem, policing and Black Lives Matter would provide thought provoking perspectives on patriotism, policing, civil rights and activism. I appreciate your consideration and have included a copy of my resume for your review.
Unanticipated Ethical Considerations in the Biomedical Engineering Space, Specifically the Future of Prosphetics
Currently, a major focus of biomedical engineers is to develop prosthetic limbs and hands that can feel and touch – ideal replacements for amputees. Restoring mobility and diminishing their dependency on others, this technology helps reintegrate veterans and victims back into daily life. However, although prosthetics may initially be designed as supporting tools, they could potentially be modified to enhance normal human function. In addition to the natural physical divide that would occur between users and those unequipped, cost and availability may also further the gaps between socio-economic classes and even entire countries. To what extent should we utilize prostheses before it becomes unethical? Biomedical engineers and policy makers must anticipate the harmful consequences of unrestricted science and work together to limit prosthetic and implant technology to its original mission of being just a curative, not enhancive, advancement.