Now in Ethics
Imagining the Worst
Being good isn't enough. One common ethical lapse comes from not thinking bad. When engineers work only on intended use, ignoring potential nefarious use, the fault is theirs when products wind up assisting something more harmful than first imagined. A simple solution, says Karl Stephan, a professor at Texas State, is simply to make a list of potential uses. And if your imagination isn't dark enough to envision the worst, you can higher a consultant to do it for you.
Engineers learn about ethics and their responsibility to society throughout their careers. Often issues of plagiarism and attribution of material are an engineering student's introduction to ethics in college. Mechanical engineering professors believe there needs to be much more.
Research and teaching of engineering ethics has mostly focused on microanalysis of individual ethical dilemmas with little emphasis placed on macroethics—the responsibility of engineers to construct solutions that benefit humanity on a global scale.