Dr. Hussein Sheikhrezaei, faculty member of Popularization of Science Department at NRISP gave a lecture at the first meeting of the meeting series on “Ethics in Science and Technology” entitled "How are ethics and technology interlinked?" which was organized by the Iranian Research Institute for Information Science and Technology (Irandoc) on the 26th.of Feb., 2018.
Dr. Sheikhrezaei said in the definition of technology and ethics: here, the concept of technology is the system of technology; in other words, technology is not only considered as a tool and an artifact, but also includes all parts of production, monitoring and implementation. On the other hand, when we talk about ethical systems, we mean, those systems that are intended to determine what is good and what is bad. In explaining the division of ethical systems, he said: in religious moral systems, ethical imperatives must be derived from religious teachings, that is, good work is what God has commanded. But on the other hand, in the secular ethical systems, need to God in the ethical systems is set aside, namely, humans can recognize what is ethical and what is not ethical and there is no need to refer to the divine order. The transition from religious ethics to secularism is very important. He then argued for differences between the two groups, for example, in one of them the use of transgenic products is ethical, but, in terms of the belief in religious ethical systems, this is not legal and ethical because it is interfering in God's work.
He said: science, technology and the scientific revolution gave human confidence that can reasonably decide on ethical issues; that is, as the world recognizes nature with its intellect, it can also recognize the world of culture, morality, and spirituality. In fact, the emergence of secular ethics occur in the space of scientific and enlightenment revolution, and this is considered as the impact of technology on ethics.
He went on to refer to other ethical systems, such as "deep ecology," which relate to holistic ethics, created by the development of new technologies and the establishment of the general order of the planet. He said about the second impact of technology on ethics: in the article of Langdon Winner entitled “Do artifacts have politics?”, there are several examples that show that issues that seem to be neutral are creating social discrimination and a new social order, or there are technologies that are inherently center-oriented (such as atomic technology) or broadcast and democracy (such as the technology of producing new energies through wind turbines).Winner believes that there are some contradictions within the systems of technology, some of which are ethical, because these systems of technology can shape our way of life or social classes. Dr. Sheikhrezaei mentioned the third effect of technology on morality and said: it changes our perception of ourselves, therefore our sense of morality also changes, so that morality is considered a natural, terrestrial, and material matter.
He emphasized on the impact of ethics on technology: new technologies provide us with opportunities, and also they offer new ethical questions and, depending on whether we can see the new possibility morally positive or negative, we may do something or not. In fact, our ethical considerations affect the use or non-use of certain technologies. Another effect is that ethical considerations are not limited to developed technologies, but are also considered in the process of developing and constructing them.
At the end of the meeting, he pointed out: given the definitions provided, it seems that ethics and technology cannot be regarded as completely different and separate, but some bridges connect them.