It goes without saying that engineers value efficiency, output, and quantifiable success.
After all, engineering as a discipline was built off of technosolutionism –– the use of modern technologies to solve complex issues. And during the early stages of contemporary engineering, it seemed that only these outcomes mattered. For every problem, there is (or should I say was) a technical solution.
As our lives become increasingly interconnected with diverse technologies, however, the significance of ethical and human-centered technology presents itself more clearly
Think back to Facebook’s role in promoting harmful disinformation during recent Presidential election seasons and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Think about the damaging effects of retouched images many ‘wellness influencers’ post on social media, fueling body dysmorphia and negative relationships with food. Think of your personal information sold by companies to increase their already-large profit margins. Technology facilitates lots of good, but its misuse is of great concern and demands acknowledgment.
Ensuring that future generations of engineers, creators, innovators, and leaders understand the dangers of technosolutionism and the problems that result from disregarding ethical engineering is essential for bettering our relationship with technology as a whole. In order for society to progress, ethics must be prioritized in the engineering community.
And Viterbi has emphasized the importance of these values very well. The Grand Challenges Scholars Program allows students to tackle the world’s most pressing issues and develop engineering solutions that put the individual first. My WRIT-150 class, part of the undergraduate writing requirement, focused on technology and social change. And Viterbi recently introduced the “Engineering in Society” program that is working to restructure the engineering curriculum and focus on the intersection of engineering and social awareness. To be a Viterb means to be an ethical, responsible, forward-thinking engineer.
I also am part of a club on campus that promotes these values through tangible initiatives, public symposiums, and digital media. Check out Shift SC to learn more!