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Hint - Automatic Conference Calls

As the number of mobile, remote, and out-of-office workers rises, the most popular offering stays the same- conference calls. A long 800 number, followed by a pause while it connects you and then a very long random set of numbers followed by a pound- oh, how much we all hate dialing and redialing it oh so many times a day…… but what if there was another way??? A 3rd party app or service you ask? An alternative to phone? NO! Any alternative would bring with it side effects and unnecessary confusion, so why suffer, when you can just use what we ALL already have, are used to, and most importantly what works great for ALL of us?? Solution is most simple: use a different format in your emails, notes, and appointments and let the phone handle it all. The following format will have your phone, as well all other users’ of the conference, dial everything completely automatically with no additional work what so ever: phoneXextension# (and other formats are supported too, as well as additional pauses (X) and special symbols (#, *, etc)). For example: 1-800-111-1111×1234#

Again, the beauty of it is that everyone on the call will benefit from this, no app/service is needed, nor is it limited to a certain make and model/OS of the phone. Free, simple, and universal.


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IA Summit 2011: Friday (1 of 3)

IA Summit 2011 was a huge success. The sessions focused on improving skill sets, analytics, cognitive persuasion, holistic experience, and the new world order- helping Information Architects “play nice” and coexist with the rest of the workforce in an agile environment. Each and every world-famous host and attendee worked on helping each other, and me personally, get closer to the acme of perfection. My most humble appreciation goes to Justin Davis, Eric Reiss, Jonathon Colman, Louis Rosenfeld, and the rest of the presenters who also found time for personal attention… It is hard to summarize the amazing and already succinct presentations, let alone great hallway discussions we had, but I have to try, out of mere respect and, if for nothing else, to persuade you to read more about their respective slides and websites.

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V-E Day

On May 9, The Third Reich officially lost to the allies. It is the day when the most unethical and immoral government fell. I thank all those who took part in the War fighting it; we will remember your exploit forever.

May this day serve as a reminder that unethical actions never go unpunished. Pragmatic decisions must be made while taking ethics into account as well.

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Law and Ethics - Take 3

Why do some people think that we should have more laws and some say less? This classification is the very essence that makes one’s laws harsh and other’s not so. When you see a harsh law, you know who is behind it.

Some believe that people will not stay within ethical borders unless there is a possibility of some incentive (better yet, punishment) and some say that they will stay decent without laws (some go even further and say that with laws more people will misbehave just to be rebellious).

I am against anarchy, but I also believe that we should have as few laws as possible. It seems absurd for me to believe that most people are evil. Furthermore, I think that nobody has a right to tell me what I should do and what I should not. The more laws we have the further we get from freedom. Democracy is not the same as anarchy, but it is not supposed to be a dictatorial regime either.

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Consumer Ethics

I recently found a website called Ethical Consumer that is looking at the social and environmental records of various companies. Basically, they tell you if a specific company is following business ethics or not. Interesting website, but nothing special, I would just put into the webliography, if it wasn’t for the (wrong) name of the website… Once again, I thought about the difference we see between business ethics and consumer ethics. Why do people notice when businesses behave unethically, but don’t care when consumers do (specifically this website tells us that it is unethical to consume what these “unethical” businesses produce)? Long warranties and return policies are, to many unethical consumers, as a moving blanket for a bull. I’ve seen people return mowers with grass still in them, but nobody seemed to care- if the store doesn’t have anything in their return policy that disallows such actions, consumers believe that they have a natural right to do so. Why? Why don’t they see that it is unethical, almost as if they were stealing the money directly? I am not quite sure why this divide occurs and it disturbs me very much, as it means that I don’t understand something very essential about human relationships…

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Entryway of the Law

In article, “Let’s keep this between you and me, all right?” I already mentioned nondisclosure agreements. In some other articles, I talked about the thin line that separates law and ethics. This time I’d like to unite the two topics.

In Volume 16 (April) of Network Computing I read a tiny news-story “Apple Bites Back”. This article essentially tells a story of a college grad that violated the agreement by distributing copies of Apple’s beta software. He didn’t get any jail time, but I’m sure he paid dearly for his indecent behavior. Just as I argued in my previous articles- when you go too far in behaving unethically, you bound to do something illegal. This story proves my point once again.

In fact, as I see it, NDA (nondisclosure agreement) is that separating (or if you want- bounding) line between law and ethics (and vice versa). When you don’t keep a secret you promised not to disclose, you are behaving indecent, but if you promised it on paper, you are also behaving illegally. Nondisclosure agreement is one of the “waiting rooms” of the law. It covers legal aspects as well as ethical.

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Business Ethics

As you might’ve noticed, my site was not available for the past 24 hours. I had server access to mySQL in the very beginning (I still don’t know why) and could change things (i.e. post new articles), but nobody could access my site. To fix the downtime problem (this was not the first time, mind you) I had to change my hoster company from Ripplehost to Hostpc.com, as my xHoster has been constantly down, did not respond to any messages, and did not update his users on the situation. I switched and since I just paid for it, I requested my credit company to dispute the charge- no service=no money.

When I was through all the hoops to get my server running I thought of an ethical decision I’ve made. When we pay somebody, we say that they have responsibilities before their customers, but for some reason we don’t talk much about that of the customers. Does it mean that ethics depend on money? If I pay you, you have to behave ethically and I can do whatever I want? Did I, myself, behave ethically when I switched the company? Alright, in my case, the xhoster didn’t do anything to fix the problems and so they behaved very unethically, but what if they would do all they could? What if it was a problem with their hard-drives and I would decide not to wait and still switch? Would that be ethical? Most people say go ahead, you have the right to do so, but that just means that money determine ethics. In Russia, they have a saying that reads something like this: “One who pays, orders the music.” Is it same with ethics??! I hope not.

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Soldier or Criminal?

After reading an article in Washington Post called “Japan Honors War Dead and Opens Neighbors’ Wounds” I pondered as to what my own views on this issue are. Many Jews, Gypsies, and other civilians were exterminated by nazi-soldiers during WWII and it would be a shock for me to learn of, say, a normal Jew honoring Nazis. So is it ethical for others to honor nazi-soldiers or their supporters? But Russian soldiers have a lot of blood on their hands, but many (including myself) honor them for saving the world from fascism. A good soldier does what he is told without questioning the orders. Such a soldier can save many lives… So where do we draw a line? Soldiers taking part in a massacre are criminals, no question about it. But when does a fight turns into a massacre? In the modern world, the line is too thin to notice for a layperson. Was Hiroshima a massacre and pilots dropping the bomb murderers? Were Japanese pilots taking part in the Pearl Harbor confrontation murderers, even though Pearl Harbor is a military port?
I know a few people whose parents were nazi soldiers during WWII (even current Pope has questionable connections). They feel ashamed for what Nazis did to my ancestors, but I cannot ask them not to respect their parents. I personally disregard people who disrespect their roots and thus I can only hope that they are not proud of that part of their history…

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Politics and Ethics - Take 2

As I argued before, ethics can have a big impact on politics. The new (?!) development with Tom DeLay proves my argument yet again. It doesn’t matter what you personally think, some still think that he did not behave ethically and thus it might drastically affect his political life. Ethical issues affect politics whether we want it or not. Moreover, it doesn’t even matter if a person is ethical him or herself. If they don’t behave like one (in the eyes of their audience of course), it will get them sooner or later…

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Advertisement and Ethics - Take 2

It’s been discussed whether one has an ethical right to use tools similar to AdMuncher to rip out various advertisement from websites. Advertisement itself was also discussed… But recently I found out about a Russian company that does context based web advertisement. The company is called RORER and it would not stand out in the field, if it was not for a special additional “context filter”. The filter “for ethical reasons” blocks all advertisement on webpages with “negative information” (i.e. news stories about terrorist activities, car wrecks etc.).

So while we argue whether it is ok for websites to sink us with advertisement and for us to try to fight it and get some clean air, some advertisement companies decide to act ethical themselves… This gives me great hope!

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Is it ethical to use unethical behaviour of others? If it is unethical to steal for any reason, is it ethical to ask others to steal for an ethical reason? What about using money that were stolen by somebody else?

MIT is launching a new research initiative to develop a $100 laptop that they could sell to developing nations so that the kids will have laptops. Sounds ethical. But say MIT finds out that a country is constantly abusing human rights, should MIT still sell these laptops? The laptops will be used for the good of the society, but by supporting such governments, MIT would also be acting unethical. In fact, what if the money were “nationalized” by the country? Should MIT knowingly take the money in exchange for the “ethical” laptop?

My answer is no! It is unethical to use unethical behavior of others for any reason!

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Ethical analysis

Different people can have different ethics. However, once ethics are set for a given person, each action can be given an ethical rating. Sometimes it is hard to do, but we still try to reason and prove that an action is either ethical or unethical.

Such analysis is an action itself and thus must as well be either ethical or unethical. If we assume that each action can have different “ethical ratings” (see my “Ehics.1-Ehics.2+Ehics.3=Ehics.X” article), we see that thinking whether a possible action will be ethical can make such action “more ethical”. We can go on and say that if one does not “check” whether an action is ethical before he actually does it, it automatically makes the action less ethical. In fact, if our logic is correct thus far, we can even say that an action, that would otherwise be unethical, can become ethical, if we actually reason first, and vice versa. If a person does something without actually checking if an action is ethical, we can say that the action will be unethical no matter what.

It sounds like I’m stretching it, but if you think about it, you might find it correct at least in part.

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Law and Ethics - Take 2

I once said, When you lie, you act unethically. If your lies hurt people you will be prosecuted. This time I would like to talk about HOW we make such laws work.

Russia has a handful set of laws target at fighting criminal behavior in the new age. For example, to prevent money forgery Russian Duma passed a special law in 2002. It said that each owner of a color printer/scanner/copier (or any other color copy equipment for that matter) is obliged to register it in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (the police) and do a monthly tech checkup on it. Also, at times when the device is not being used, it must be stored in a secure safe. Furthermore, to work with the equipment one must first take a special test on safety precautions and usage rules for the device. Sounds like something one might propose as a weapon law, not a computer peripheral law. In fact, this law was so absurd, that two years after its release Duma voted to exclude the Ministry of Internal Affairs (police) part of the law. As noted by the Duma Safety Committee, role of the law-enforcement, as it was specified in that act, is excessive, breaks the rights of the proprietor and allows workers of the militia (police) to enter industrial and office accommodations without due bases and without consent of the owner. Members of Duma also noted that abundance of computers and multiplying mechanisms on territory of the Russian Federation makes registration practically impossible, especially considering absence of the device ID system.

To prevent indecent behaviour government passed an unethical law itself. Corruption is unethical even if it is just a law that discriminates citizens for the benefit of the government. As any severe unethical behaviour is eventually punished, so is passing an unethical law.

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Law, Politics, and Ethics

Who has voting rights in the United States of America? Who can vote for their favorite president? One has to be a US citizen 18 years of age and older. Hence, we have two specific barriers. If you are younger then 18 you cannot vote, if you are not a citizen, you cannot vote. Age we will leave for a next time. Now let’s focus on the citizenship issue…

First of all, is it an issue at all? Most countries have the same rule and nobody seems to complain about it. Nevertheless, let’s build a logical hierarchy. If we start from the bottom of the question, may be we will come up with a result that will surprise ourselves…

Who should (in ethical terms of course) vote for a governer of a state? Only citizens? So, then should a citizen leaving in Massachusets vote for a Colorado governer? No? Then why do citizens leaving in countries outside of US have the right to vote for our president?

Who should vote for the board of trustees for a local Home Owner Association? Only citizens? But if I live in this community shouldn’t it be enough to allow me to vote? Only people who live in the community? But if I purchased a house in the community and am renting it out, shouldn’t I be able to vote, may be I will start living in it next week instead? So if I have a private property in the community shouldn’t I be able to vote no matter where I actually live? If so, then certainly citizens outside of US should vote for the president. But wait! Doesn’t it also mean that if I have private property in US I should vote for him (or her ;)) too? If I know that a president will have a negative impact on my business, shouldn’t I be able to vote for somebody else, no matter what citizenship I have, what nationality I have, and what color is my skin?

Does that mean that anybody who has any kind of property in the US (no matter big or small) should be able to vote? What about terrorists that might buy a tree, should they be able to vote too (say we cannot prove that they are terrorists)? The answer is probably no, but then would the “citizenship” barrier really stop them anyway? Doesn’t this barrier simply lets people that were just born on American soil, but lived most of their lives in foreign countries, to control what United States does, while stopping people that have property/business in US, and thus are genuinely interested in our success, from making the best decisions?..

P.S. Note that I’m not sure about this issue myself. This “barrier” is not the only one that might not be operating the way it was intended, but as with the rest of them, I don’t know of a better solution. May be you do?

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Advertisement and Ethics

Almost everybody hates SPAM. I know I don’t want to increase any parts of my body or send my money to Nigeria, but I still get those e-mails in my mailbox. Certainly I try fight it and I usually win the fight (since the spamers want me to look at the message and my spam filtering software gets rid of those messages, I consider myself to be the winner, although it’s not 100% true). On the other hand, very few talk about POST-mail spam. As it is much easier to create e-mail spam, it is much easier to fight it too. Post-mail is hard to fight. There is no automatic tool that I can install on my computer to fight it. Furthermore, as there is a threat of getting a false-positive when my spam-filtering software is doing its work, there is even a higher probability of trashing what I need when I look through my mail. Why? Because it’s always possible for that $700 check or even a bill to get stack between pages of some advertisement booklet. Hence, I have to look through almost every advertisement I get by mail.

But I have a solution! Or at least something that will lower that spam I get through the post office. If AOL thinks that its doing something ethical when it blocks certain servers, why can’t Post Office do the same? I’m not going to say that it is unethical. Furthermore, I’m not asking them to look through my mail, just not TAKE mail from certain businesses known to send mail to “current resident”. It should be illegal to send out spam, so if Post Office is not obliged by law to not help others commit such crime, it is ethically obliged for sure. …An easy solution which will never be implemented…

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Internet and Ethics

Although common ethics must be followed on the internet as well as anywhere else, they might be simply insufficient. While plagiarism is clearly unethical in all fields, such things, as leeching or flooding, might be harder to distinguish simply due to their exclusive nature. DDoS attacks and other violent actions are clearly unethical, but is it unethical to not use a search function before posting in a forum? Is it unethical to use ALL CAPS when submitting a message or sending an e-mail? At last, is it ethical to not follow various conventions like spelling?

Internet ethics is something that has not been clearly established yet and thus the hardest to follow. Furthermore, if common plagiarism might be something you never thought of simply because you never create anything, when you use internet, even if you just look around, you have to know about numerous ethical rules. Just as it might be unethical to walk around in a mask, it might be unethical to access websites with an anonymous proxy. When one thinks of using internet, they also have to think of how they will do it.

P.S. Webliography has been updated once again…

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In the Individual Ethics vs Society Ethics article I compared ethics of “one” to ethics of “many”. A more general question is actually whether ethics can be compared at all. This would be similar to asking a moral question: “Does one have a right to lie (thy shalln’t lie) to not harm another human being (thy shalln’t harm),” or, in other words, whether there are different levels of moral values (i.e. protection is level 4, while truth is level 2).

So do ethics have various weight categories? Say person A does some cryptic research and eventually comes up with results that would be of great benefit for the society. Nevertheless, he is afraid to publish his findings as the country of his citizenship has laws that prohibit such actions. To circumvent this and to let the society know of his finding, person A covertly transmits all the data to person B who resides outside of the country. Person B publishes all of the A”s data and results under his own name to protect A”s life. In doing so, B simply plagiarizes A, even though his intent is beneficial. It is unethical to plagiarize, but it is ethical to try to protect other people and to release information of benefit to the society. If we say that ethics have categories, than we can make plagiarizing=-3, life protection=5, information release=3, which would lead to total being positive 5 and mean that the actions of person B were completely ethical. I tend to disagree and say that while person B behaved ethically for the most part he also behaved unethically by plagiarizing A, even though he might’ve not had another choice. Person B should be happy for doing what is right, but his conscience shouldn’t let him sleep well until he undoes what he did wrong.

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...I shall make it good for you, even against thy will!

Is it ethical to go against one”s will? Is it ethical to do so for their benefit?

Let’s say you know that your 5 year old nephew wants a radio-controlled car, but since he is old enough to read on his own, you buy him a colorful and interesting book instead. You know that he won’t be too happy, but you argue that as he gets older he will thank you. You argue that your actions actually show that you really love him, as you are doing what is best for him. I say, “Unethical!” If you want to buy him a book, do so as an addition, but if you know that he wants a car for his birthday, buy a damn car- it’s his day after all! He has a right to decide what is best for him on his own, no matter what age he is…

Now, on another side of the impact spectrum, you got that “terminally sick relative”. You know he is going to commit suicide (euthanasia). Is it ethical to stop him? What if he asks you to help, is it ethical not to help? Would you have an obligation to prevent it or to help it? This is a question I cannot answer with the same confidence and pray won’t ever have to…

This article is second in series of my “Relative”s Will” articles (first is Individual Ethics vs Society Ethics). I might write a few more articles using this example as it seems to be a very important subject that has no clear universal ethical answer.

Here are some additional readings on this topic:

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Individual Ethics vs Society Ethics

Eventually one is faced with a problem to either help one or help many. Often, good for one is not the same, and sometimes the opposite, of good for others. It also frequently happens in ethics… Consider this: one of your relatives is very sick and asks you to take a certain amount of money to donate to some nonprofit organization that helps hungry children all over the world. If you do so, you will save many children”s lives. You can also spend the money to hire a really good doctor and possibly help that relative (maybe even save their life, who knows?). At last, but not least, you can take that money for yourself. The third option is of course the least ethical, but the first two are much harder to guess on. Going against the will of your relative and possibly indirectly killing children is unethical, but not doing anything to save your relative is also unethical and immoral. What would you do in this situation?

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Health and Ethics

Some people deal with ethics more often then others. Doctors have to make hard life and death decisions everyday, but at first they are just ethical issues… One (un)ethical decision that a doctor can make, is to send a patient back home, when the patient believes that he or she needs their (doctor”s) service. Such (possibly) unethical decision can lead to really bad consequences, and sometime even death…

Nicole DeHuff died “four days after she reportedly checked into a Los Angeles hospital, was misdiagnosed and sent home with orders to take Tylenol.”

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TV and Ethics

Remember my Allegedly ruined life article? This one is about media also (seems like I have a lot of issues with Media Ethics ). Really, media is everywhere now and it has as much impact on our kids (let alone all those “susceptible” people) as do schools. People learn from what they hear/see on Radio/TV, that’s what this technology is for… But sometimes TV goes overboard (does it?) with providing us with visuals. Sometime this week, I was watching news on some “unnamed” channel and they were showing a report on yet another terrorist attack. Unlike radio that has no visuals or newspapers that have minimum, TV has “streaming” visuals, different every so many seconds. What can they show us when they talk about a deadly terrorist attack? Certainly bodies ripped to shreds and scattered all over the place. That was 8 o”clock news mind you, that many families watch over their dinner. Distasteful dinner and bad mood for the rest of the day is nothing compared to lost lives, but what about the kids that were also watching (might have) the news? What about the relatives of those killed in the attack? Is it ethical to show such things? I’m not sure. The relatives might be against it. Parents might in fact not care; they might actually say that such things harden children”s brain so that the kids will be ready for adult life… Nevertheless, the majority is probably against such displays. Yet, TV news continue to show them. May be I’m wrong and most people actually want to see them or think that we need to?

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Police and Ethics

Have you ever seen a police car going 20 miles over the speed limit? Police sometimes just has to go faster then the other vehicles on the road, that is why they have those lights. How about without its cool ultra-bright lights and sound? I”ve seen this on our local highways just way too often and I think it is unethical and should be illegal (most probably is). If people stop following laws there are supposed to protect then instead of a democratic system we will have anarchy. I don’t want unethical people protecting me, it’s just too dangerous.

P.S. For more “enforce the law, brake the law”, read my Purpose justifies means article.

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Law and Ethics

When you lie, you act unethically. If your lies hurt people you will be prosecuted. When you are on a border line, you might get away… But many will tell you that staying on that thin line and not crossing it is very hard. Vasiliy Galashev (or “Reiki Master Ardi Galash” as he calls himself) found that the hard way. He forgot that swindling (when proven) is a crime as one form of theft. Furthermore, it wasn’t enough for him to deceive (unethical) and get money for that (swindling is often hard to prove, so this is the border line), he decided to sexually assault (illegal) his credulous patients. He will pay dearly for his crimes and his filthy behavior.

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Allegedly ruined life.

Today I have a really short discussion. Is it ethical (as usual- legality of the action is not in question here) to post names/photos/portraits of people who “allegedly” did something bad? Without even thinking of what harm it can do I say that it is unethical unless the person gives permission to do so… But if one looks at the harm then there should be no question at all- it is completely unethical. Ruining life of a person who might later be found not guilty on any charges is unethical and immoral. If he or she is found guilty, then it is of course another story… Here is an example of what I’m talking about: CNN: American charged in alleged plot to assassinate President Bush

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Politics and Ethics

Some say that politics and ethics have nothing to do with each other and any political action cannot and must not be assessed from ethical point of view. Is it really true?

In the past couple of years Latvia (an xUSSR country) passed a number of laws concerning Russian language. Russian language was turned into a foreign language (i.e. not second official language); the area of its official application was narrowed. Use of Russian language in schools, especially in middle, high, and professional, was also restricted (“at least 60 percent of all classes taught in Latvia”s public schools for Russian minority must now be taught in Latvian”). I don’t want to talk about why it happened, what impact it will have, and how to “fix” it, as I don’t want to be too biased. There are many websites out there that represent at least three different points of view (depending on whether you are a conservative Latvian, Latvian Russian, or other ). For our purposes it will suffice to say that these laws will directly concern “around a third of Latvia”s population of 2.35 million”.

Latvia certainly has the right to pass such laws, but I argue that such legislation is unjust (and thus unethical in this case). Politics is not about being ethical, but this time it would”ve benefited Latvia to try to be more ethical. By passing these laws Latvia broke even more bonds with Russia (which is politically and economically a bad decision for Latvia) and made European Union wary… Thus, Latvia, by making an unethical decision, made a bad political decision.

If you want to read more about how some languages are favored over others, I suggest you read an article called “Urban Legend: German almost became the official language of the US” and especially this one (as it actually has a connection to the topic I discussed above): “Requiring English / Accepting Other Languages in the U.S.”

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Let's keep this between you and me, all right?

When we were discussing the Harvard “pron-dean” we covered a lot of issues, but one thing we”ve covered just too briefly. It is an issue of “confidential information” (as apposed to “personal life”). We talked about the professor, the technician, and even the reporter, but didn’t talk much about how the reporter got such information in the first place. First the reporter was somehow tipped off (by someone from the inside?) and then he got sufficient information to write the article (from someone from the inside!).

Similar actions are called “insider trading” in the exchange and investment field and are considered to be “illegal conduct”. Analogously, UK adopted Official Secrets Act that every “member of the security and intelligence services” (i.e. police officer) has to sign. To protect themselves some choose to make their employees and partners sign a nondisclosure agreement. All three methods (certainly there are many more) are used to bring this “unethical behavior” to the level of “illegal behavior”. Apparently Harvard school doesn’t have any of such processes in place or were unable to find the person behind the “insider trading”.

Certainly, as with any other unethical actions, this one has various levels. One can tip off the police or the other way around, and tip off a criminal. No matter whether you signed some kind of an agreement or not, you are bound by the “nondisclosure ethics” and when you reveal personal information you are behaving unethically.

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Purpose justifies means

One question that I could never answer completely is whether one has the right to undermine the law to enforce it. I don’t want to talk about “human rights” this time, just ethics and possibly morals. Let’s consider a few examples. First I will illustrate a simple, yet specific case and then go on from there…

Consider a “warez website”. It is illegal to distribute “pirated software” and there various ways to enforce the law in this case, but you yourself decided to step in. You do a (D)DoS attack on the website. Putting aside the issue of rights (whether you have the right to intervene or not), did you do an ethical thing, as not only “warez” is illegal, but also such attacks? I think this is unethical for plenty of reasons, one of which (by no means main and only) could be that the website could”ve been hosted a long with a number of other websites that will also be down during the attack.

Now consider a website used by terrorists to communicate with each other (assume this website(s) actually exist(s)). This time it is the government who steps in and the only way to found out what terrorists are planning and possibly to prevent another deadly terrorist attack is for FBIa href=”http://www.nsa.gov/" target=”_blank”>NSADHS to hack this website. This time it is much harder to say whether it is ethical or not. My background makes me say that in no way does “purpose justifies means” and so such action will be unethical. Should the FBI do it? It doesn’t really matter, as the FBI will still do it to protect me among all, keeping in mind that it will be unethical and will undermine the law itself (Orwell: “Everybody is equal, but some are more equal than others”).

We must not undermine the law to enforce it, but can we do it to protect human rights? If we value human life higher then everything else, then we will answer “Yes!”

P.S. As you can see I’m still not satisfied with the “answer” I got. I say “yes”, but I’m not content. Why? Probably because my answer goes against my ethics and my beliefs. I believe that purpose does not justify means, but I sometimes say otherwise. Am I a hypocrite? Tell me, as I’m afraid I am.

P.P.S. Read Elena Bonner”s (Sakharov“s widow) statement on Russian elections. This is not totally on the subject because it doesn’t talk about law and ethics, but rather ethics and politics, but it is still talking about purpose and means… Plus Bonner is really smart, so it won’t do any harm if you read this short article ;)

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Semester Officially Starts...

Starting this week I will begin posting here at least twice a week and will also start taking part in discussions @ CSC4735: Discussion Area.

As a first post…

What is a difference between morals and ethics? I think that morals are universal values that some might choose to follow, while ethics are common behavior rules agreed upon by a group of people. Thus, one can follow different ethics in different groups and still be an ethical person. As an example, it is unethical for a man to come into a synagogue (Jewish church) with head uncovered, which the reverse is true for an Orthodox church. At the same time, if I am to be a moral person, I am not to steal… Whatever country, building, or society I may be.

What is your take on this? Leave comments if you have an interesting idea that you want to share…

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Software Patents in EU

The European Union might pass a law that would legalize software patents. Can this law change software industry or it won’t have any effect on the industry at all? Is it ethical to be against it? For it? No Software Patents! website is arguing that “our prosperity, and some of our freedoms, will be in jeopardy” if the law is passed and that is would be “a huge mistake”.

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Welcome to my ethical weblog

This is a first “test” message…

cout(“Hello worldn”); :D

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…Don’t mind the date on this “message”. I’ve set up the date this way so that it is the only message on the page and so that webliography doesn’t distract you from the messages. This page will be constantly updated as the semester progresses, so keep coming back…

In reverse-time order:

Ethical Consumer looks at the social and environmental records of various companies and lists them. It tells us that it would be wrong to consume what “unethical” businesses produce: “Ethical purchasing put simply is buying things that are made ethically by companies that act ethically.” They mostly target brand names, but smaller companies also end up in their extensive “black list”.

Utilitarianism: Past, Present, and Future contains a huge hierarchical list of various resources available on the Net and pertaining to Utilitarianism. This website is bound to have more then you will ever need to know about it ;)…

The Digital Rights Management Home Page is a great website that covers every singe aspect of this technology. Extensive pros and cons sections, history, and even dictionary of terms. A superb choice for anyone researching this topic.

TVHarmony is a weblog “devoted to home entertainment technology including PVR products like Tivo, Video Servers and Distribution.” It has latest news and a lot of articles on various ethical aspects of the entertainment industry (i.e. a really short article on DRM perfectly describes my point of view on the issue).

RORER is a Russian context based web advertisement company. What makes the company special is a unique (as far as I know) ethical filter that blocks advertisement on webpages with “negative information”. Thus, there will be no ads for cheap cars in a news article about a car wreck and no ads for cheap tickets next to an article about plane hostages.

Center for Business Ethics and Corporate Governance helps make business practices more transparent and ethical in Russia and the region. The website has some information on current situation with business ethics in Russia and explanations as to what they should be and why. English version seems to have a little less info, but most of it is still there. Good resource for people interested in finding out what business ethics are in the first place.

Center for Palliative Care Studies website “offers expert support to hospitals, nursing homes, health systems, hospices, and other organizations that serve individuals nearing the end of life”. They wrote numerous books about care of terminally-ill people and have many excerpts from these books on this website.

Twenty Improvements in End-of-Life Care is a list of things that “clinicians” (people looking after patients) can easily do to improve life of their terminally-ill patients and their relatives. This list shows how hard it is to manage such things and might just change your opinion on euthanasia one way or another.

“There is great danger in legalising assisted suicide”, says Mary Joseph in this article on euthanasia. Mary has a very interesting look on the subject even though, here in US, the Florida case is better known right now.

Requiring English / Accepting Other Languages in the U.S. is an article by Jennifer and Peter Wipf. They provide a short history of the subject and cases for and against it. This is, among other things, an important ethical question that many disregard by simply comparing US to countries that do have an official language.

Elena Bonner”s statement is a statement released by Elena Bonner (Sakharov“s widow) on previous presidential elections in Russia. She talks here about morals, ethics, and politics. Whether you agree with her or not, you still should read this article as she is extremely intelligent and many share her views on ethics.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a new government department that provides “the unifying core for the vast national network of organizations and institutions involved in efforts to secure our nation [from terrorist attacks].” The website has information on various citizen programs, government agencies, and even business that are protecting US from the terrorist threat. It also has additional information on the “Don’t Be Afraid, Be Ready” campaign.

NSA is a beautiful website that belongs to National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Security Service (CSS). NSA (and CSS) is all about knowledge and whatever knowledge they are willing to give up to the public is available right here… Not much, but better then nothing.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI) is a US agency responsible for various important investigations, including computer crimes. The website has information about war on terrorism, various current and old cases, and list of Most Wanted with photographs (btw, is it ethical to get money for helping the society catch dangerous people?)

The SITE Institute (stands for Search for International Terrorist Entities) is a website that belongs to a non-profit organization. It provides terrorist related information to government, media, and public. It has latest news related to terrorists, background information on various terrorist groups, and even a list of terrorist websites.

CSC4735: Discussion Area: Various ethical topics are discussed here by my classmates from the CSC-4735 class. It might be interesting to see what kind of ethics future and current Computer Science professionals have, it’s only a pity that only registered members can view these topics.

No Software Patents! This website is arguing that “our prosperity, and some of our freedoms, will be in jeopardy” if EU legalizes software patents and that is would be “a huge mistake”. It’s an ongoing issue and this website reflects only one side of it…

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