Guest Post by Kandis Wyatt, Transportation & Logistics Associate Professor, American Public University
Technology is advancing at a rapid rate. As a result, it is easier than ever to capture a person’s words, thoughts, and actions. Video, voice recordings, and other technological means of information have led to a proliferation of the replication of knowledge. However, as more and more ideas are disseminated in the world, there is a greater temptation to copy the ideas of others rather than develop something new. Also, the more ideas that people are exposed to, the potential exists that similar ideas could arise in different people.
In the written form, a word-for-identical-word match is a red flag for plagiarism. Depending on the format used, there is a preferred method to use to signify the work comes from another source. At the 2016 Grand Old Party National Convention, Melania Trump was accused of plagiarizing portions of a speech given by Michelle Obama in 2008. Ultimately, the speech writer took the fall for the incident, but what should be the consequences of not citing a person’s original work in print or a verbal speech?
There have been instances where the press has taken liberties with others’ work, and when they are eventually caught they typically leave the field in disgrace. Just over a year ago, Brian Williams embellished a story about being fired upon when traveling by helicopter. The embellishment of the incident and about the facts turned Mr. Williams’ long career in reporting sour to the point he lost his job, and he made an apology to the American people.
Original thought is a requirement in academia, but what about using works that are not as well known. What about business ethics? Jack Welsh would proudly proclaim that he stole good ideas from other companies, such as Six Sigma from Motorola. Six Sigma had been in use at Motorola for some years, and when Jack Welsh wanted to overhaul the flagging General Electric Company (GE), Jack made Six Sigma part of the plan. During the period that followed, GE was driven by the tenets of Six Sigma and GE showed savings of $12 billion over five years.
Currently, there are multiple companies working to perfect the self-driving car. However, will this type of technology be disputed in the future? Is each of these companies in development truly unique or is there some technical overlap? Also, what role will corporate theft or espionage have in the future?
The question that persists is, how does society hold a person accountable for their actions? What, if any repercussions, should be established in the future? It is important to highlight the pros and cons of utilizing original work in both the verbal and written format. Specifically, how to relay original information, how to use one’s words, and how to let the listener/reader know the source of information.