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Problem #1: Ethics of false tweets in emergencies

During Hurricane Sandy, a man sent several tweets containing false statements about electric power and transportation conditions (for example, that a major highway was completely flooded). Some journalists retweeted the false statements.

a) Discuss the ethics of the person who sent the tweets.
b) Discuss the professional ethics of the journalists.
c) Devise professional guidelines for journalists in such situations.

Problem #2: A digital divide in online education

A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that the (roughly 35,000) students who enroll in its massive open online courses (MOOCs) are a somewhat special group. For example, among students in the U.S., 80% already have a college degree. Among students from some countries outside the U.S., 80% were in the wealthiest 6% of the
population.

a) Argue that MOOCs have failed as a way to bring education to people who have traditionally had less access to it.
b) Present counterarguments to the view that MOOCs have failed.
c) You are the board of directors of an organization that provides MOOCs. How would you respond to the study? What changes, if any, would you make in your business plan, marketing, etc.?

Problem #3: 3D printers

3D "printers" create three-dimensional structures, layer by layer, using various materials (e.g., glues and resins) under direction of a computer file. People have found a very wide variety of uses for them, including creating toys, 3D models of body parts from MRIs to help prepare for surgeries, architectural models, models of proteins and the topography
of Mars, prototypes of designs for new products ranging from shoes to parts for new aircraft. Using human tissue rather than plastics, scientists are experimenting with"printing" body parts to replace damaged ones. 3D printers can also make plastic guns that are not detected by standard metal detectors at security screening stations. Someone posted the design information for making such guns on the Internet.

a) Discuss the ethics of posting the design for the plastic gun.
b) Critique 3D printers from the perspective of the Luddites
c) Respond to the Luddite criticisms. Give your own overall evaluation of the social impact of 3D printers.

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Problem #1: Ethics of false tweets in emergencies

During Hurricane Sandy, a man sent several tweets containing false statements about electric power and transportation conditions (for example, that a major highway was completely flooded). Some journalists retweeted the false statements.

a) Discuss the ethics of the person who sent the tweets.

The person who sent the tweets acted at least in an irresponsible way. While tweeting the false statements the person broke the foundations of ethical behavior – honesty. Being honest is the corner stone of ethical humanity. The cause of that kind of behavior might be some kind of commercial or personal interest but that can’t more important than understanding the whole picture. With those tweets the person has set trail for widespread panic, with consequences that could not be imagined in the moment of releasing the tweets. In my belief that act was highly unethical.

b) Discuss the professional ethics of the journalists.

Journalists were guided by the idea that sensational stories should be followed and brought to the general public. But this was the case in which one other rule of proper journalism should have been applied – checking information. Unfortunately the journalist involved in this incident didn’t follow the rule that dictates for all information to be double checked and showed how professional ethics are fragile when they meet sensationalism and “breaking news” syndrome. Their professional ethics were weak in comparison to their thirst for headlines and exclusivity....
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