Ethics: Are we misusing the terms "master-slave". Do we even have a community / forum in which we can discuss this?

The recent world wide considerations of the diversity challenges in our society has highlighted that we in Engineering can be perpetuating some of the derogatory terms implicit within our use of "Master-Slave" for purely inanimate technical control scenarios. [1 - N]


We have policies on slavery that every volunteer, staff member and Trustee must read and abide to, but it appears we haven't noticed, to any significant extent, our own continued use of "slave" in our writings.


Do we even have a community or forum in which we can discuss this ethical, and publishing issue?


Philip Oakley

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53273923

[2] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3243656.stm

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-53050955

[4 ] http://www.jstor.com/stable/40061475   "Broken Metaphor: The Master-Slave Analogy in Technical Literature"

[5] https://www.theiet.org/involved/volunteering-for-the-iet/volunteer-hub/our-policies/anti-slavery-policy/


Aside: Is there some tick box to get notifications of replies sent?
Parents
  • OMS:
    Philip Oakley:

    Isn't that assertion just ignoring a hazard, without reasonable adaption, in the hope that nobody of alleged importance notices?

     


    Not really, Phil - if people are determined enough to be offended, then they will be. For the rest of us, it's pretty easy to see the term without immediate offense taken, because none was intended.

     



    However I expect you will be careful not to use Hitler, Adolf, Fuhrer, etc in posts as offence is likely be taken (Godwin's law..)

    People are not offended by considered communication. It's the misuse and incorrect association that causes problems. Inanimate objects can't be slaves.


    In the past folks have used innocuous words in deliberately racist manner where context is used to convey the derogatory meaning. Removal of the opportunity to miss-contextualise these phrases by using simple phrases which better express the correct engineering intent should be the goal.


    Hence my question asking about the correct IET forum for our published literature guidelines, and Ethical phrasing guidelines.
Reply
  • OMS:
    Philip Oakley:

    Isn't that assertion just ignoring a hazard, without reasonable adaption, in the hope that nobody of alleged importance notices?

     


    Not really, Phil - if people are determined enough to be offended, then they will be. For the rest of us, it's pretty easy to see the term without immediate offense taken, because none was intended.

     



    However I expect you will be careful not to use Hitler, Adolf, Fuhrer, etc in posts as offence is likely be taken (Godwin's law..)

    People are not offended by considered communication. It's the misuse and incorrect association that causes problems. Inanimate objects can't be slaves.


    In the past folks have used innocuous words in deliberately racist manner where context is used to convey the derogatory meaning. Removal of the opportunity to miss-contextualise these phrases by using simple phrases which better express the correct engineering intent should be the goal.


    Hence my question asking about the correct IET forum for our published literature guidelines, and Ethical phrasing guidelines.
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