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Definition: ethical issues regarding technology

Starting in the 1950s, the world has undergone a technology shift unlike anything in history. From computer processors that take up a room shrinking literally to the head of a pin, the developed world is totally technology driven.

Like good and bad in all walks of life, technology has brought us amazing systems. Personal computers, the Internet and smartphones have changed everything we deal with. However, serious ethical consequences have arisen and continue to plague the modern world. Following are some of the major ethical issues.

1. Misinformation and Disinformation
The unintentional misstatements and the intentional lies on social media, blogs, podcasts and streaming news channels have turned the modern world into a disinformation zoo. Ferreting out facts is nearly impossible unless someone is a direct witness to the situation because both sides of an issue claim the truth. With faked videos emerging, this will have an even more deleterious effect on society because people believe what they see. See deepfake.

2. Personal Information
People freely give away their data all day long on websites by making purchases or merely browsing the Web for entertainment. All of this becomes the raw material to profile and target people for both commercial and nefarious purposes. The more personal data floating around the Internet, the more opportunities for hackers to intercept transmissions or break into the servers of companies everyone trusts. See privacy.

3. Responsibility
Technology companies use a huge amount of third-party programs, and the creators of software to this day require customers to take all the responsibility for lost data. The computer industry is perhaps the only one that specifically says "we are not responsible for the damage caused by our products because we cannot control the environment you run them in." See EULA.

4. Social Media and Bullying
Teens are glued to their phones and social media accounts unlike any communications system in the past. However, they are easily embarrassed or become ashamed when someone posts something derogatory or too personal about them. Today's youth spend an inordinate amount of time texting, posting, tweeting and retweeting, and if something malicious or spiteful is published, it can reach their peers in a heartbeat. Teen depression and suicides may result from comments and photos that are posted for spite. Kids can be mean, and nothing in history has ever exacerbated this more than today's technology.

5. AI and Autonomous Systems
No day goes by when "AI" is not heard in some manner. Autonomous systems are proving to be the next leap in technological prowess. However, the more mechanical functions and decision making placed into robots, drones and vehicles, the more human jobs will be eliminated. By 2075, society in the developed world will hardly resemble the 2020s. In addition, today's economic and social systems will seem primitive in the future. See ethical AI.