Information Technology and Moral Values
Information technology is now ubiquitous in the lives of people across the globe. These technologies take many forms such as personal computers, smart phones, the internet, web and mobile phone applications, digital assistants, and cloud computing. In fact the list is growing constantly and new forms of these technologies are working their way into every aspect of daily life. In some cases, such as can be seen in massive multiplayer online games (see section 2.1.1 below), these technologies are even opening up new ways of interacting with each other. Information technology at its basic level is technology that records, communicates, synthesizes or organizes information. Information can be understood as any useful data, instructions, or meaningful message content. The word literally means to “give form to” or to shape one's thoughts. So a basic type of information technology might be the proverbial string tied around one's finger to remind or inform you that you have some specific task to accomplish today. Here the string stands in for a more complex proposition such as “buy groceries before you come home.” The string itself is not the information, it merely symbolizes the information and therefore this symbol must be correctly interpreted for it to be useful. Which raises the question, what is information itself? Unfortunately there is not a completely satisfying and philosophically rigorous definition available, though there are at least two very good starting points. For those troubled by the ontological questions regarding information, we might want to simply focus on the symbols and define information as any meaningfully ordered set of symbols. This move can be very useful and mathematicians and engineers prefer to focus on this aspect of information, which is called “syntax” and leave the meaningfulness of information or its “semantics” for others to figure out. Claude E. Shannon working at Bell Labs produced a...
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