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The Continuing Shock of the New: Some Thoughts on Why Law, Regulation, and Codes Are Not Enough to Guide Emerging Technologies

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Graduate Ethics Education & Professional Codes

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

24.1192.1 - 24.1192.14

DOI

10.18260/1-2--23125

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/23125

Download Count

141

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Paper Authors

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James Craig Hanks Texas State University, San Marcos

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Dr. Hanks is Professor of Philosophy, an Affiliate Professor of Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization, and a member of the Steering Committee for the Interdisciplinary Program in Sustainability Studies at Texas State University. His book "Technology and Values" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) is in revision for a second edition, and his new book "Technological Musings" is forthcoming, with "Technology and Transcendence" in development. He is a member of the editorial board for Philosophy in the Contemporary World, and an editor for the book series Philosophy of Engineering and Technology (Springer). During 2013 and 2014, Professor Hanks is a Co-PI on a National Science Foundation Grant with colleagues from Texas State (Dr. Jitendra Tate, Ingram School of Engineering, Mr. Satyajit Dutta, Ingram School of Engineering) and University of Texas at Tyler (Dr. Dominick Fazarro, Human Resource Development and Technology). The purpose of the grant is to develop introductory and advanced curricula that address social, ethical, environmental, health, and safety issues of nanotechnology.

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Dominick Esperanza Fazarro The University of Texas at Tyler

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Dominick Fazarro is the Coordinator of the Nanotechnology focus group for ATMAE
and IEEE Senior Member of the Nanotechnology Council. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Resource Development and Technology at the University of Texas at Tyler. He is currently researching nanotechnology education, nanotechnology workforce development, and NANO-SAFETY.

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Jitendra S. Tate Texas State University, San Marcos

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Dr. Tate, associate professor of manufacturing engineering, has established safe handling practices for industrial (such as nanoclay) and engineered (such as carbon nanotubes) nanoparticles in his research and teaching, dealing with advanced polymer nanocomposites. His research lab will serve as the training site on health and safety issues of nanomaterials. Dr. Tate is a mechanical engineer by training and has 16-plus years of academic and two years of industry experience. His research areas include developing, manufacturing; and characterizing the high-performance polymeric nanocomposites for rocket ablatives, fire-retardant interior structures of mass transit and aircraft, lighter and damage-tolerant wind turbine blades, and replacement of traditional composites using bio-based materials. He has mentored undergraduate African-American students under NASA-PAIR at NC A&T University, an HBCU, and Hispanic students under H-LSAMP at Texas State. He is a member of AIAA, ASME, ACMA, ASEE, and SAMPE. He is a recipient of a prestigious national teaching award, the 2009 Dow Chemical Educator of the Year by the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Composites Division.

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Walt Trybula Texas State University & Trybula Foundation, Inc.

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Walt Trybula, Ph.D., MBA, IEEE Fellow & SPIE Fellow, is a Director of the Trybula Foundation, Inc., and an Adjunct Professor in the Ingram School of Engineering at Texas State University-San Marcos. Dr. Trybula is a technology futurist and has focused his activities on evaluating technology trends and applications in emerging key industries with an emphasis on their impact on economic development and job creation. Dr. Trybula is involved in developing technology choices for emerging technological requirements. His current technical focus is threefold: nanotechnology, energy, and semiconductors. His business focus is on strategy development and technology insertion into the organizational structure. He is involved with a number of state and local organizations and committees focusing on economic development through business creation.
Dr. Trybula is active in disseminating information on the importance of the appropriate insertion of emerging technologies into the communities. He authored the State of Texas teaching module on "Nanotechnology and Economic Development" and presented to numerous organizations including the "Nanoelectronics, Photonics, and NANO-SAFETY" topic for the U.S. Congressional Nano Caucus. He is an IEEE CPMT Distinguished Lecturer and an invited speaker on nanotechnology issues.

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Robert J.C. McLean Texas State University

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BSc (Microbiology), University of Guelph, Guelph ON Canada 1978
PhD (Microbiology), University of Calgary, Calgary AB Canada 1986
Postdoc (with TJ Beveridge, University of Guelph) 1986-88

Assistant Professor (Research faculty) Dept. Urology and Dept. Microbiology, Queen's University, Kingston ON Canada 1988-1993

Asst Professor, Dept. Biology, Texas State University, San Marcos TX 1993-1998
Assoc. Professor, Dept. Biology, Texas State University 1998-2004
Professor, Dept. Biology, Texas State University 2004-present
University Distinguished Professor, Texas State University 2012 - present
Regents' Professor, Texas State University System 2012 - present

President, Texas Branch American Society for Microbiology 2001-3

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Abstract

The Continuing Shock of the New: Some Thoughts on why Law, Regulation, and Codes are Not Enough to Guide Emerging TechnologiesIn this paper the authors argue that emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology, demand theskills of ethical analysis and judgment, coupled with ethical sensitivity, creativity, and wisdom.One of the central characteristics of contemporary technological society is the ceaseless andintentional search for innovation. This is a fundamental change from earlier, pre-industrialperiods of human history in which the human relationship to technology was largely eitherpreservative (continuing existing techniques) or to treat technology as something other, magical,or divine. We understand technology as a human product, and systematically seek to changeexisting technologies and create new ones. New technologies present not only new means forexisting tasks, but create new possibilities and thus new goals for human activity. This meansthat we have ever-new products, techniques, and goals, which consequently change individuallives, communities, nations and the international community, and nature itself. This also meansthat change has come to be expected as the natural state of human existence, a taken-for-grantedbackground condition. Additionally, new technologies have a power and a range of impacts –both spatially and temporally – greater than at any time in history, and also create situations ofboth great knowledge and great uncertainty.Engineers, as architects of this new world produce products and processes that impact, in variousand differential ways, the lives of all people, and often in unexpected ways. Engineers, we willargue, thus have responsibilities beyond developing and utilizing technical skills and knowledge.Consider, for example, nanomaterials. The past decade as seen a rapid growth in thedevelopment and use of nanomaterials in everyday objects (cosmetics and socks) and specializedones (wind turbine blades and geological sensors). Engineers, and the institutions within whichthey work, will tend to focus on efficient performance and minimizing cost, or might avoidexploring nanomaterials out of caution. Realizing the full potential of this new technology thusdemands guidance beyond the technical.Law, and regulation, and professional and design codes will all provide some guidance to thesafe and ethical development and use of new technologies. But, this paper argues, law,regulation, and codes are not enough. This is so because law, regulation and codes: 1) arefundamentally different from ethics and largely negative devices that guide us in what to avoidbut not what to do, 2) are not self-explanatory and demand thoughtful application, 3) containconflicting and vague imperatives, and 4) do not cover all cases and are thus incomplete. Thislast is especially true when dealing with emerging technologies, as there will be considerableuncertainty about uses, benefits, risks, and other implications. For this reason, attention to socialand ethical dimensions of engineering and technology is necessary. Engineers need to nurtureethical sensitivity, creativity, and wisdom, and practice skills of ethical analysis and judgment.Together, these provide an ethical toolbox for dealing with novel situations.

Hanks, J. C., & Fazarro, D. E., & Tate, J. S., & Trybula, W., & McLean, R. J. (2014, June), The Continuing Shock of the New: Some Thoughts on Why Law, Regulation, and Codes Are Not Enough to Guide Emerging Technologies Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23125

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