Military Technology in Everyday Life

new pink box. added some comments for later (including suggesting splitting this page). cut a FYTD that didn't make sense. --MF, 12/24/17

MF: could use a review and perhaps a page cut

On this page, you will learn how military technologies end up being used for civilian purposes and consider the ethics of working on military technologies.

  1. Look up the following:
    1. Which came first, nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons?
    2. Who set up the GPS satellite network, and why?
    3. Who paid for the development of the Internet, and why?

Many technologies are developed for military purposes and turn out also to be useful for the rest of us.

  1. Brainstorm as big a list as you can of dual-use technologies. (It doesn't count as dual-use if a technology developed for everyone to use, such as the telephone, is useful to the military in the same way that it's useful to anyone.)

Should You Work on Military Technology?

This feels like it should be a separate page. --MF, 12/24/17
photo of Mary Golda Ross
Image from Museum of Women Pilots

Mary Golda Ross (1908–2008) was a ground-breaking Native American engineer and the first female employed by Lockheed, an American aerospace technology corporation. Ross was passionate about educating women and Native Americans and spent over ten years teaching while earning her Master’s degree in mathematics during the summer. Lockheed hired her as a mathematician in 1942. During her thirty-plus years there, Ross contributed to cutting-edge aerospace designs including concepts for interplanetary space travel, crewed and uncrewed Earth-orbiting flights, and orbiting satellites.

Article: Aerospace Engineer, Educator, and Advocate

The Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct from the Association for Computing Machinery

1. General Moral Imperatives

As an ACM member I will...

1.1 Contribute to society and human well-being.

This principle concerning the quality of life of all people affirms an obligation to protect fundamental human rights and to respect the diversity of all cultures. An essential aim of computing professionals is to minimize negative consequences of computing systems, including threats to health and safety. When designing or implementing systems, computing professionals must attempt to ensure that the products of their efforts will be used in socially responsible ways, will meet social needs, and will avoid harmful effects to health and welfare...

1.2 Avoid harm to others.

"Harm" means injury or negative consequences, such as undesirable loss of information, loss of property, property damage, or unwanted environmental impacts. This principle prohibits use of computing technology in ways that result in harm to any of the following: users, the general public, employees, employers. Harmful actions include intentional destruction or modification of files and programs leading to serious loss of resources or unnecessary expenditure of human resources such as the time and effort required to purge systems of "computer viruses." ...

  1. Which do you think is more harmful to others: deleting their computer files, or killing them? Which of these does the ACM consider more harmful?
  2. Research and discuss: Is it ethical to work on weapons? How do some ACM members justify such work? Does it matter if the work is on a dual-use technology?