Tuesday, February 17, 2004

On Ethics

Some interesting thoughts...

Ethics has become a subject of great discussion of late. However, no one has any clear idea on what is ethics and what are its limits. Definitions such as they constitute the fundamentals of morals or law are clearly grandstands. Ethics has close connections with culture. Hence, what might be ethical for you might not be ethical for me and vice-versa. For example, one might feel that downloading music of the net is all cool, but another might consider it unethical. The reason I took the example of the Internet is to illustrate how much ethics is dependent on cultures. The interesting thing about the internet is its vast spread. And the speed of its spread was so fast that it was the first enabling technology of its scale that allowed people from totally different continents and cultures to interact at so intimate a basis. The ethical dilemma that we face in the process of downloading music or movies of the net has origins in this cultural interaction.

Of course, there were other factors like people coming into access with the technology for the first time and hence not realizing that it was unethical to pirate stuff. But, the continued increase in music downloads illegally and of the usage of cracks and pirated movies, despite people becoming increasing aware of its unethical nature points to the fact that it is inter-cultural interaction and the consequent fluid definition of ethics that is responsible for such dilemmas.

Another issue is what makes people raise the issue of unethical behavior in the first place. I believe that the origins of such protest lie in the Equity Theory. When people see others take advantage of systems or their loop-holes while they cannot, either due to lack of awareness or due to inability, they feel an inequity. It is this inequity that results in ethical 'grandstands'. A good example is the issue of music downloads. When music companies realized that users all over the world were listening to songs, their inherent feeling of inequity kicked in. Similarly is the issue of scams. When people realized that someone else was making money, whether it was at their expense OR NOT, people raised a hue and cry on unethical behavior. Coming back to the example of music downloads, why is it that ordinary people do not complain about such illegal downloads and only music companies raise a hue and cry. Now, one must remember that these 'ordinary' people constitute very well read individuals (the common perception of a nerdy school dropout downloading pirated music is but a myth) - sometimes with even Phds and MBAs !. Why do they not consider such piracy as unethical behavior while making all kinds of noise about the need for ethics in business and everyday life. It is because the issue is one of perspective. What is unethical for some is ethical for others.

Ethics is about a perspective of what is right and what is wrong. And who are we to decide what is what :D

Friday, February 13, 2004

Services Work

It's been hard work the past few weeks for us in the Services Team of CRP 2004. We've been working pretty hard it, and earning lots of kudos from all for the work we've been doing. This is mainly due to the super-enthu guys in our group, especially patra, abhinav, avartan and ofcourse our GSec - the high and mighty ;) Pai. But it's 2 days to go to CRP now... the assessment centers have been going on since the beginning of this month, pretty hectic time for us fellows. We've been given a week's break to get this CRP off smoothly. I just hope the next 4 days will go off peacefully.
Some interesting comments from The Work Foundation - iSociety - a site devoted to research on the effect of ICT in UK.

Gives lots of info on the emergence of blogging, its effect on the spread of politics, use as a free talk radio and like. One interesting sentence :

The blogsphere is an example of Willard Quine's coherence theory of truth: that things are true if they agree - or appear to agree - with other things that are held to be true.

- The spread of 'like' truth :D
XLRI's website is updated. Have a look at it here.
I'm proud since I was part of the team that made it :)

Friday, February 06, 2004

Blogging on If Only for a Night, Wall St. Fallen Idol Is One of the Boys

An interesting article about Kappa Beta Phi - one of the most mysteriously secret societies in Wall Street - a club of the choicest of finance professionals.

Says "The sole purpose of the society, which claims more than 250 of Wall Street's executives and former chiefs, is to allow some of the biggest egos in finance to poke fun at themselves and to induct new members in a campy rite that dates back to 1929."

Seems The top officers are referred to as Grand Swipe and Grand Loaf, and its motto is Latin for "We Sing and We Drink." Members are strongly encouraged to maintain a bond of secrecy with regard to the club's rituals and the fun that is had at member's expense.

Some more interesting stuff At the dinner, part of the tradition is for the members to hurl dinner rolls at the inductees as they perform their song-and-dance numbers. The club takes its performances very seriously, and inductees are provided with coaches to ensure that the skits are carried off with at least a modicum of professionalism.

Quite like our OMAXI :)

Blogging on Sir Karl Popper "Science as Falsification," 1963

Pretty interesting stuff - came across when I was prepping for the BRM exam tonite and needed to know about the theories of falsification and verification. Some exerpts...

A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.
Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.

Astrology did not pass the test. Astrologers were greatly impressed, and misled, by what they believed to be confirming evidence ? so much so that they were quite unimpressed by any unfavorable evidence. Moreover, by making their interpretations and prophesies sufficiently vague they were able to explain away anything that might have been a refutation of the theory had the theory and the prophesies been more precise. In order to escape falsification they destroyed the testability of their theory. It is a typical soothsayer's trick to predict things so vaguely that the predictions can hardly fail: that they become irrefutable.

...And as for Freud's epic of the Ego, the Super-ego, and the Id, no substantially stronger claim to scientific status can be made for it than for Homer's collected stories from Olympus. These theories describe some facts, but in the manner of myths. They contain most interesting psychological suggestions, but not in a testable form