Environmental Racism and the Role of Engineers in Providing Justice

Environmental racism, which encapsulates the disproportionate number of minorities living near and negatively impacted by environmental hazards, greatly burdens communities of color both physically and economically. In an effort to attain environmental justice for these communities, engineers have a duty to leverage their knowledge and resources in order to empower and mobilize alongside community organizers and put pressure on opposing stakeholders. This paper reviews the direct correlation between race and environmental hazards, as well as analyzes two cases in which engineers can either harm or help marginalized communities.

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Ethics of Geoengineering

Until recently, the concept of geoengineering has widely been dismissed as a far-fetched and unethical idea to manipulate the environment. Geoengineering proposals intend to reduce the effects of global warming by manipulating the environment through extracting carbon dioxide from the air or reflecting sunlight to reduce global temperatures. However, as the context of climate change has shifted in urgency, geoengineering has emerged as a potential last-ditch effort to save humanity from climate-induced destruction. Despite its many unknowns and risks, geoengineering might provide a temporary solution to delay the detrimental effects of climate change and prevent the irreversible damage projected by current global warming trends.

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Autonomous Weapon Systems: Our New Soldiers, or a Disaster Waiting to Happen?

Morality in the process of war, or “jus in bello,” is one of the two principles of the Just War Theory doctrine, created by ethicists in an attempt to reduce the immorality of war. Autonomous weapons, which function without human control and have been used by the United States military since the Obama administration, may thus be unable to fulfill the requirements of jus in bello. So, is it possible for fully autonomous weaponry to ethically take human life in the context of war? As autonomous weapons cannot be held liable for their actions, lack the capacity to make crucial decisions on their own, and would have a profoundly negative effect on the civilian population, this paper argues that they are therefore unable to be used ethically and should not be participants in war.

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The Ethics of Digital Voice Assistants

In 2019, there were a staggering 3.25 billion digital voice assistants in use across the globe, a figure that is predicted to rise to 8 billion by 2023. These assistants, which include Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and more, are not just computers; they have voices and personalities, and we develop social relationships with them just like we do with real people. However, the way they are currently designed, voice assistants enable and even encourage certain stereotypes and social behaviors in their users. This paper explores the ethicality of digital voice assistants and their effects on those who use them and suggests ways designers can approach their development to make sure such socially detrimental effects are mitigated.

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Pay to Play: The Ethics of Video Game Economics

Video games provide endless hours of fun for people of all ages, races, and genders. Gamers may not realize, however, that certain elements of their favorite form of entertainment may pose a serious threat to their wallets—and even their mental health. Game developers employ various techniques to manipulate users into purchasing items in the in-game store, including lockouts, reward removal, and loot boxes; considering virtue ethics and computer scientists’ ethical code emphasizes the need to remedy this exploitation.

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