Early in the information technology revolution Richard Mason suggested that the coming changes in information technologies would necessitate rethinking the social contract (Mason 1986). What he could not have known then was how often we would have to update the social contract as these technologies rapidly change. Information technologies change quickly and move in and out of fashion at a bewildering pace. This makes it difficult to try to list them all and catalog the moral impacts of each. The very fact that this change is so rapid and momentous has caused some to argue that we need to deeply question the ethics of the process of developing emerging technologies (Moor 2008). It has also been argued that the ever morphing nature of information technology is changing our ability to even fully understand moral values as they change. Lorenzo Magnani claims that acquiring knowledge of how that change confounds our ability to reason morally “…has become a duty in our technological world” (Magnani 2007, 93). The legal theorist Larry Lessig warns that the pace of change in information technology is so rapid that it leaves the slow and deliberative process of law and political policy behind and in effect these technologies become lawless, or extralegal. This is due to the fact that by the time a law is written to curtail, for instance, some form of copyright infringement facilitated by a particular file sharing technology, that technology has become out of date and users are on to something else that facilitates copyright infringement (Lessig 1999).
The more specific term “computer ethics” has been used to refer to applications by professional philosophers of traditional Western theories like utilitarianism, Kantianism, or virtue ethics, to ethical cases that significantly involve computers and computer networks. “Computer ethics” also has been used to refer to a kind of professional ethics in which computer professionals apply codes of ethics and standards of good
References: Stephen Haag, Maeve Cummings and Donald J. McCubbrey. Management Information Systems: For the Information Age, 4th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
Deborah G. Johnson, Computer Ethics, 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001.