Could a mod split this into a separate conversation? I think it’s important to talk about, but it’s straying from the core need for this thread, I think.
I know a team that spent a significant amount of effort supporting building up interest in China, back when there were no Chinese teams. Then we had a year with a bunch of Chinese teams coming to events here in the US. Then China got some local regionals. To paint such a team with the broad brush indicated in this article represents a severe lack of understanding of what they, and many other chairman’s-worthy teams, have done.
I won’t deny that FIRST could put more emphasis on building teams sustainably. That’s a big gap in their system right now. At some point, teams need to be able to stand on their own - find funding and sponsors, recruit new members. Things like rookie grants are great, as they help teams get started, but they’re horrible because many teams fold after they run out due to lack of funds. I know grants like the NASA rookie grant require new teams to focus on chairman’s submission work. That should be changed to working on a sustainability plan. Yes, have grants that give teams money for their first two years, but make those grants contingent on completing a sustainability plan that shows progress towards fundraising and recruitment. And instead of being a hard cut-off at two years, phase teams out. Drop the amount they receive each year for a few years in a row. That lets them more organically bring on new sponsorship to replace their rookie grant. Such a system requires FIRST to work with the sponsors, and would represent a significant shift in how things are handled. Toss in a question on the Chairman’s award about sustainable outreach (you’ve started X teams, and Y are still active this season), and it’ll help let teams know sustainability is a goal. It really shouldn’t take more than that.
As for the question of ethics… two examples are given where technical development may not be entirely ethical - AI replacing jobs and leaving people destitute, and biometrics leading to Orwellian surveillance of the population. I would argue that both of these broad branches of technical development can also have positive ethical impacts.
For AI, having a network of automated cars could help reduce or eliminate traffic accidents. Here in the US, somewhere around 90 people per day die in a traffic accident. With smart cars that talk to each other, all of those deaths could be avoidable. People have always worried about emerging technologies making their jobs obsolete. But society as a whole adapts, and job opportunities shift and change over time. It’s a painful process at times, but the benefits to society can be huge. This view would seem to prioritize macro ethics (benefit to society) over micro ethics (benefit to the individual), which directly contradicts the position the opinion piece takes. Trying to argue the ethics of eliminating 200,000 taxi jobs in the US versus saving as many lives over the course of 6 years isn’t much of an argument, to me. I’ll take saved lives over job losses any day, even if that job is someday mine.
Next, biometrics. I don’t know about you, but I find it rather convenient having good security on my phone, knowing that my data is protected, yet being able to access it quickly and easily with a fingerprint or a glance. Biometrics is used, first and foremost, to enhance security, both personal and corporate, not track the population. Being able to protect your data from thieves is important in this era, and biometrics is a very secure way to do that.
Finally, I want to point out an example of gracious professionalism in the real world, and how it gets companies (for the most part, there are always exceptions) to act ethically instead of in their best interests. In a simple word, standards. There are all sorts of standards that come into play with your favorite devices. Without the USB standard, companies could make a lot more money and ensure brand loyalty - of course you would by their computer again, all your devices work with it, and switching to their competitor would mean replacing those devices as well. Without such a standard that everyone follows, you’d lock yourself into an ecosystem and give the company the ability to increase prices without worrying about losing customers - pure profit. Other standards - HDMI, Bluetooth, WiFi, to name a few - all promote the same selfless behavior.
Supporting gracious professionalism doesn’t mean you neglect an individuals experience for the sake of a team image, as the second opinion article states. It means you work, as a team, to handle a situation appropriately and professionally. How can anyone think that reporting incidents of harassment or assault would go against GP? Those incidents themselves, and the people that perpetrate them, are the ones that need a lesson in GP, and by bringing attention to them we help the whole community become more aware.
Every team needs to determine what’s important to it. Create a mission and core values that reflect your team, and hold yourselves accountable. Create a responsible and supportive culture within your team. Teams have to take responsibility for themselves and how they approach a problem, not place the blame elsewhere. It’s a shame that some teams look at things like the chairman’s award as a cutthroat competition where they need to min/max their way to the top. But let me ask one question - without Chairman’s and EI, what incentive would teams have to do any outreach? We may not have a perfect situation right now, but I think it’s much better than one where teams are isolated and not working to impact their communities.