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Ethics in Technology

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You presume everything would work out fine -- do I presume that everything needs to be regulated? Maybe. Tbh, I suspect neither one of us is correct in our assumptions, but we may never know...
-tomos (September 29, 2015, 03:20 PM)
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We can guess, but that's all. As it stands, it appears that the information we are given is dubious at best. Tuxman's link shows that pretty well.

To put a bit of teeth behind what I'd said before:

But better here:

And specifically this:

While EPA is turning the screws on the car industry to achieve fractional reductions in the tailpipe emissions of cars that have been 95 percent or more “clean” since the mid-1990s, no one seems interested in an easy – and cheap – way to cut emissions not by fractions of a percent but by actual whole percentages.

And then some.

If the fuel efficiency of a given car is increased by say 30 percent, its total output of harmful emissions will decline dramatically – without any changes to its existing package of emissions controls. Burn less fuel, produce less exhaust. Simple.EPA pic


If EPA were really interested in reducing emissions – rather than dishonest political grandstanding – it would lock horns with the DOT and NHTSA to ease off on the “safety” mandates that have added hundreds of pounds to curb weight of the average new car, and reduced fuel efficiency dramatically as a result.
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The "emissions" regulations focus on the wrong things and try to get blood from a stone. Improving mileage is a simple, better way to reduce emissions, but that doesn't play well into the agenda.

So, given the insanity that VW is facing, I certainly can't blame them for skirting idiotic laws.

Bring this back around to developer/designer ethics in general, again I'd have to say that using the law as a metric for ethics/moral isn't going to end well. i.e. There is nothing inherently immoral or unethical about breaking a law.

That isn't to say that laws are incapable of lining up with moral/ethical principles, e.g. murder is wrong, but rather it is to say that there is no necessary connection between the two. In other words, whether or not a law is moral/ethical is merely accidental/coincidental.

I'm not too sure that I really have much more to add to that in this context.

So, given the insanity that VW is facing, I certainly can't blame them for skirting idiotic laws.
-Renegade (October 02, 2015, 01:18 PM)
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If you truly believe that, that's pretty sad Ren. Even coming from someone who likes to occasionally throw the proverbial "alligator over the transom" just to get people thinking and talking. (Which is something I can appreciate. ;) )

But ok. Even granting the benefit of the doubt to some of what you're saying, why did VW choose to do it the way they did?

If VW were so convinced of the insanity of existing EPA regs, why didn't they publicly challenge them, ideally in conjunction with the other major auto manufacturers, if the existing and planned future regulations were so obviously going in the wrong direction? It wouldn't take much to get public support behind them and force Congress's hand if it could be clearly demonstrated that the existing regs cause more harm - or significantly less benefit - than the government is claiming. Especially when it means it adds a significant increase to the price the average driver has to pay for a car.

If the so-called bad regulations could be shown for what they are, they'd get changed in fairly short order. Figure a year or two at most. Because the one place you can always hit an American, and be guaranteed to get their full attention, is their checkbook.

Sorry. Bad laws need to be confronted. Not sidestepped because someone claims that "better information" or a "higher reality" is guiding them. That's the same argument that's used to justify "teaching the controversy" in public schools. Or denying access to information abput legal medical alternatives to women who, out of necessity, attend publicly funded health clinics. Or deciding there's a "higher truth" that grants you an exemption from your sworn duty as a public official to uniformly issue marriage licenses.

If everyone gets to have their own private laws and interpretations, you're heading toward an eventual breakdown of any legal system that allows it to become commonplace. And that can only result in a far greater set of problems for our society than the problem of a bad regulation itself. Because that's claiming privilege - from the Latin privilegium meaning "law applying to one person, bill of law in favor of or against an individual." And that's hardly a way to run a society based on shared freedoms, rights, and legal protections - no matter how flawed the attempts taken to achieve those goals.

VW chose to take the easy and gutless way out. Whether or not they felt they were justified in doing so, that's still not the way to do things. And whatever entirely predictable problems they're now suffering through were brought on purely by their decision to evade rather than fix an allegedly broken law.

I have zero sympathy for VW at this point. What I do feel bad about is the possible adverse impact this may have on the overall German economy. Because VW is a major player. And a lot of innocent employees, along with the larger German public, will ultimately have pay the price for VW's transgressions once the government is forced to step in. And I'm sure the German government will eventually be forced to do so. (Just like our own government was forced to bail out crooked bankers here in order to avoid a major financial crisis that would have affected everyone.)

miss you 40!  good to have you back.

Well said 40hz! I was thinking along similar lines but couldn't quite articulate it. Just because some laws are bad and laws don't equal morality or ethics doesn't mean that we shouldn't *try to make laws more ethical and moral*, i.e. try to make them *good* laws.

- Oshyan

miss you 40!  good to have you back.
-superboyac (October 02, 2015, 04:31 PM)
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Hey there SB!  :)

It's good to be back. This is easily the most civil and rationally intelligent community and forum on the web. :-* I certainly have missed those drawn out threads we've gotten into over the years. This place is the best!

Besides, I'd probably sink into early senility without Renny around to shoot those politico-philosophical spitballs of his that keep my brain on its toes.


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