cyberspace, the final frontier

Flanagan, P.S.L. (1999) “Cyberspace: The Final Frontier?”, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 115-122

ABSTRACT. The science fiction series of the ’70s, Star Trek, began all its telecastings with the announcement “Space: The Final Frontier.” Star Trek chronicled the voyage of a crew navigating their way through space. For the travelers, space seemed like the last unknown entity that needed to be investigated. As they journeyed, they learned of the boundless nature of space. Each episode portrayed a group of folks encountering new situations, attempting to solve another problem, or strategizing how to overcome an obstacle. While few people will ever have a chance to travel in a spaceship to discover the universe, most have trekked through cyberspace. Cyberspace is the coined term for the computer world. Little would the Star Trek’s producer, Gene Roddenberry, know what expansive limits the computer age would usher in. With the advent of the computer age, we recognize that we have not even begun to identify the powerful magnitude of the computer. At each juncture or moment of discovery a new question is raised, impact is assessed and plans are strategically mapped out. This paper will identify the ways and places computers have impacted our lives and the corresponding ethical questions they raise because they affect human relationships and social institutions. It will then study one particular aspect of computers: electronic mail (email). Email is the normative way of communicating across computer networks. It has its benefits and challenges which will be named and discussed.

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