CMU Pugwash: Technology & Liability


Technology & Liability in the 21st Century

On December 19th , the corporation Target reported that it had fallen victim to a widespread data breach. According to the company, payment data was stolen from 70 million adults who had shopped in its United States stores up to mid-December. The theft is one of the largest ever in retail data. After such a catastrophic event, one must ask: Who is to blame?

The issue of liability is becoming increasingly more prominent as we tend towards a technologically automatized society. Clearly the perpetrators are at fault, though do we place some of the blame on Target for crafting a faulty security system? Or, do we blame the security system itself for failing?

The argument becomes clearer when considering automatized cars. If a self driving car was to 'malfunction' and cause an accident, surely one can not only blame the person in the car. Do we therefore place responsibility on the car manufacturers, or the car itself? Liability in our society is an issue that demands conversation. Without deciding who is to blame for automatized decisions, both manufacturers and consumers may remove themselves from accountability, thereby hiding behind the cold decision making of technology.

About Pugwash:
As a non-advocacy, educational organization, Carnegie Mellon Student Pugwash strives to increase awareness of the ethical dilemmas created by the interactions of science, technology, and medicine within contemporary society and approaches to dealing with these dilemmas. Our interdisciplinary perspective helps to bridge the gap between knowledge and action in areas such as biotechnology, computers in society, management of technology, national security and nuclear weapons, energy, technology transfer, and the environment. Carnegie Mellon Student Pugwash is non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic, non-partisan, and student run. At its center, Pugwash has a steering committee, all which directs the group through popular consensus. Carnegie Mellon Student Pugwash encourages participation of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. We encourage participation from all majors, as this leads to an interdisciplinary approach that stimulates more universal, well-rounded thought and discussion. All of our meetings are open to those willing to contribute and learn from its activities.

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