ETHICS

CLASS EXAMINATIONS

Mulitple Choice Questions

Paraphrasing without mentioning the source is plagiarism.

  1. TRUE (**)
  2. FALSE

One main aspect of Utilitarianism is that one must act to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number.

  1. TRUE (**)
  2. FALSE

If one acts such that one must act to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number so that individual rights are sacrificed for the sake of the majority, then one is acting in accordance with:

  1. ethical relativism
  2. utilitarianism goals (**)
  3. deontological concepts

When right or wrong is based on someone's actions ignoring the consequences, there are _______ theories involved.

  1. Self Sacrificing
  2. Utilitarian
  3. Deontological (**)

Which of the following is a characteristic of Deontology:

  1. One must act to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number.
  2. The ends justify the means.
  3. One needs to act out of a sense of duty. (**)
  4. None of the above

Each of the following statements is a characteristic of a particular ethical approach (Relativism, Utilitarianism, Deontology). Match each statement with its approach.

  1. One must act to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. (Utilitarianism)
  2. The ends justify the means. (Utilitarianism)
  3. One needs to act out of a sense of duty. (Deontology)
  4. An appropriate action depends on the circumstances of the event. (Relativism)

"There are no universal, moral rights and wrongs. What is ethical to someone, may be unethical to others" is the definition of which ethical approach?

  1. ethical relativism (**)
  2. utilitarianism
  3. deontological theories


Essay Style Questions

1. A team of artificial intelligence scientists has invented an automatic speech-recognition device and voice-response system that can be used economically to serve customers of automated teller machines for most banking services. Great effort is made to convince customers that they are conversing with a real person. In fact. in case of system failure, a human substitutes for the voice response system and follows the same protocols and rules as the automated system. No capability is included to permit the customer to know whether the conversation is with the automated device or a human.

Respond to the following opinions regarding the potential ethical behavior on the part of the purveyors of this system:

(a) The inventors are marketing a device specifically designed to deceive the public and take no responsibility for the social implications of their product. This is unethical behavior.

Possible answer:

Disagree. The inventors are designing a friendly man-machine interface which is more likely to be accepted by customers than a totally artificial system. The whole goal of AI is to imitate human systems to better serve the public. In many ways all computers imitate human action; imitation is not equivalent to deception.

The "Turing Test" distinctly sets the goal of building systems which imitate humans.

The social implication of making a computer simulate a human is non-negative.

Like Nobel, an inventor often has no control over the uses of his invention; if there is a problem here it is in the use of the system not its design - unless the user is purposely kept unaware of negative social implications.

(b) Any bank which uses this device is a party to deception and fraud. This is unethical behavior.

Possible answer:

Disagree. So long as the bank provides a service which is beneficial to the customer, and is not socially threatening or disruptive, there is no unethical behavior.

 

2. ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS IN THE SPACE PROVIDED (40 points) (PUT YOUR NAME ON EACH SHEET)

Consider the following scenario:

R&M Machinery had for years provided XYZ with sophisticated equipment and reliable repair service. XYZ returned a failed piece of equipment. A meeting was held which included Archie Hunter, a representative from XYZ; Norm Nash, R&M's returned equipment area representative, and, Walt Winters, an R&M engineer intimately acquainted with the kind of equipment XYZ had returned.

Norm Nash represented R&M's "official position": the piece of equipment is all right. However, during the course of the meeting it becomes apparent to Walt Winters that the problem has to be R&M's. He suspects that the equipment was not properly tested out by R&M, and that it failed because of an internal problem.


Should Walt say anything about this in the presence of the customer, or should he wait until after the meeting to discuss this with Norm Nash? What are the pro and con arguments for the two alternatives?


Walt keeps silent during the meeting. After the meeting he talks with Norm about his diagnosis. He suggests they tell XYZ that the problem is R&M's fault, and that R&M will replace the defective equipment. Norm replies, "I don't think it's wise to acknowledge that it's our fault. There's no need to hang out our wash and lessen XYZ's confidence in the quality of our work. A 'good will' gesture to replace the equipment should suffice."

R&M management decides to tell XYZ that they will adjust to the customer's needs "because you have been such a good customer all these years." Although R&M replaces the equipment at its own expense, it does not tell XYZ the real nature of the problem.


Discuss the R&M resolution of the problem. Should R&M's way of handling the problem be of any concern to Walt Winters at this point, or is it basically a "management problem"? Justify your answer.


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Last updated 99/09/22
© J.A.N. Lee, 1999.