Controversies

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These controversial areas of science and engineering involve ethical issues and concerns about their potential societal implications.

Controversies
  • Artificial Intelligence and Robotics 6
  • Big Data 21
  • Climate Change 22
  • Cloning 3
  • Dual Use Research 11
  • Embryo Research 8
  • Energy 13
  • Geoengineering 5
  • Human Enhancement 17
  • Human Migration 5
  • Military and Defense Research 12
  • Stem Cell Research 1
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  • Biodiversity Case Study: Assisted Migration

    Added07/26/2018

    This case explores ethical issues surrounding assisted migration of endangered species. In particular, it focuses on Torreya taxifolia, an evergreen conifer tree endemic to Florida, and an activist group, Torreya Guardians, that has been distributing trees to sites outside the endemic range, including in North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

    Author(s) Michelle Sullivan Govani
    Year 2017
  • Added05/24/2018


    Abstract: The Strategic Defense Initiative provides a context for exploring the ethical issues that arise when scientific research has a direct bearing on public policy. Students are asked to consider three different documents that were circulated during the first few years of the SDI program. ...

    Author(s) Marshall Thomsen
    Year 2018
  • Added01/25/2018

    Certain research areas are controversial insofar as they raise special ethical concern; one such area is that of research for military or defense purposes – with an offensive or defensive military or security goal. In addition, ethical issues arise for research that may be practiced or ...

    Author(s) Rachelle Hollander
    Authoring Institution Online Ethics Center
    Year 2017
  • Added01/24/2018

    Many options have been explored for alleviating global warming, including replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources and/or nuclear power, and removal of carbon dioxide and/or direct intervention in climate (geoengineering). When limited to the context of climate change, ...

    Author(s) Rachelle Hollander
    Authoring Institution Online Ethics Center
    Year 2017
  • Added01/24/2018

    The Greek philosopher Aristotle used the word “energy” to indicate the ability to act to reach a goal, whereas the modern view of energy indicates the capability to undertake work. In science and engineering disciplines today, energy has precise technical meanings. Today also, ...

    Author(s) Rachelle Hollander
    Authoring Institution Online Ethics Center
    Year 2016
  • Added01/24/2018

    Climate in a geographical area is its typical or average weather. Climate change therefore would be a change in that typical or average weather that endures over time. Usually in conversation today, climate change refers to the global phenomenon of a long term warming trend in temperatures; ...

    Author(s) Rachelle Hollander
    Authoring Institution Online Ethics Center
    Year 2017
  • Added01/23/2018

    A straightforward definition of “big data” appears towards the top of a Google search (June 29, 2016) as “extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and ...

    Author(s) Rachelle Hollander
    Authoring Institution Online Ethics Center
    Year 2016
  • Added01/19/2018

    The debate over human enhancement focuses on interventions (biomedical, technological, genetic) that are used to improve the human form or functioning beyond what is necessary to restore or sustain health.

    Parens, Erik. 1998. Enhancing Human Traits: Ethical and Social Implications. ...

    Author(s) Kelly Laas
    Authoring Institution Online Ethics Center
    Year 2016
  • Added01/19/2018

    Scientific experiments and measurements are transformed into research data. The term “research data” applies to many different forms of scientific information, including raw numbers and field notes, machine tapes and notebooks, edited and categorized observations, interpretations and ...

    Author(s) Kelly Laas
    Authoring Institution Online Ethics Center
    Year 2016
  • Research Ethics and the Norwegian Oil Industry

    Added01/05/2018

    In 2014, researchers and students at University of Bergen questioned the university's research cooperation with the nation’s oil industry, Statoil. The rector asked the Norwegian National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology (NENT) for advice, which it provided in a public report.

    Author(s) Rachelle Hollander
    Year 2017
  • Sensitive Health Data and Privacy

    Added11/28/2017

    privacy, corporate responsibility, data security

    A tech company contracts Luminia, a healthcare information firm, to design an employee wellness program. The President of Luminia recommends that the company implement a secure messaging platform to protect employee’s private health information (PHI). The company’s vice president, however, thinks that the platform is too expensive and that the extra protection is unnecessary.

    Author(s) Jason Ludwig Dalton George
    Year 2017
  • Taking a Product to Market

    Added11/28/2017

    software engineering, sales, corporate responsibility, computer science

    A software engineer has concerns about a recommender system his firm is designing to sell to health and life insurance companies. In a meeting with the sales team leader, he brings up these concerns and argues for extending their development timelines to address them. The sales manager, however, wants to hit the market with their product as soon as possible.

    Author(s) Dalton George Jason Ludwig
    Year 2017
  • Big Data Case Study:  Big Data & Conservation Biology

    Added06/13/2017

    An amateur birdwatcher contributes to eBird--a citizen science project. When conservation scientists begin tagging owls in the state park near his home and ask his neighbor for permission to conduct research on her property, he wonders whether the value of the knowledge created about endangered species through both studying migration and citizen science projects such as eBird justifies the impact these activities can have on individual birds and species.

    Author(s) Valerie Racine
    Contributor(s) Valerie Racine Karin Ellison Joseph R. Herkert
    Year 2017
  • Big Data Case Study:  Big Data & Neuroscience

    Added06/13/2017

    A neuroscientist studies brainwave technologies with the aim of developing brain-machine computer interfaces (BMCI) and biometric systems. In considering projects she might work on, such as developing a database system to identify individuals by EEG biosignatures or advancing the field of neuromarketing, she starts to wonder about the long-term social value of these emerging technologies.

    Author(s) Valerie Racine
    Contributor(s) Valerie Racine
    Year 2017
  • Big Data Case Study: Big Data & Public Health

    Added06/13/2017

    A computer science graduate has an opportunity to work managing large data sets from smartphone applications designed to track individuals’ personal health information. His father, an epidemiologist, encourages him to consider the project’s use of personal data, as well as the ability to design algorithms that could accurately predict and track outbreaks based on this kind of data.

    Author(s) Valerie Racine
    Contributor(s) Valerie Racine Karin Ellison Joseph R. Herkert
    Year 2017
  • Big Data Collection

    Added06/13/2017

    This collection of resources on Big Data is part of a larger collection of Life and Environmental Science ethics education resource sets on ethics of emerging biotechnologies , big data in the life sciences , human enhancement , and conservation and biodiversity . Doctoral students from ...

    Author(s) Valerie Racine
    Contributor(s) Valerie Racine Karin Ellison Joseph R. Herkert
    Year 2017
Cite this page: "Controversies" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 9/18/2015 OEC Accessed: Saturday, October 20, 2018 <www.onlineethics.org/Topics/29513.aspx>