General Suggested Readings

Here are some articles and papers that you might find interesting:
 

Abstract: The present article focuses upon three aspects of computer ethics as a philosophical field: contemporary perspectives,future projections, and current resources.Several topics are covered, including various computer ethics methodologies, the `uniqueness' of computer ethics questions, and speculations about the impact of globalization and theinternet. Also examined is the suggestion that computer ethics may `disappear' in the future.Finally, there is a brief description of computer ethics resources, such as journals,textbooks, conferences and associations.
Abstract: The purpose of this essay is to determine what exactly is meant by the claim computer ethics is unique, a position that will henceforth be referred to as the CEIU thesis. A brief sketch of the CEIU debate is provided,and an empirical case involving a recent incident of cyberstalking is briefly considered in order to illustrate some controversial points of contention in that debate. To gain a clearer understanding of what exactly is asserted in the various claims about the uniqueness of computer ethics, and to avoid many of the confusions currently associated with the term ``unique'', a precise definition of that term is proposed. We then differentiate two distinct and radically different interpretations of the CEIU thesis, based on arguments that can be found in the relevant computer ethics literature. The two interpretations are critically analyzed and both are shown to be inadequate in establishing the CEIU thesis. We then examine and reject two assumptions implicit in arguments advanced both by CEIU advocates and their opponents. In exposing and rejecting these assumptions, we see why it is not necessary to accept the conclusions reached by either side in this debate. Finally, we defend the view that computer ethics issues are both philosophically interesting and deserving of our attention,regardless of whether those issues might also happen to be unique ethical issues.
Abstract: The author has surveyed a quarter of the accredited undergraduate computer science programs in the United States. More than half of these programs offer a “social and ethical implications of computing” course taught by a computer science faculty member, and there appears to be a trend toward teaching ethics classes within computer science departments. Although the decision to create an “in house” computer ethics course may sometimes be a pragmatic response to pressure from the accreditation agency, this paper argues that teaching ethics within a computer science department can provide students and faculty members with numerous benefits. The paper lists topics that can be covered in a computer ethics course and offers some practical suggestions for making the course successful.
Abstract: Computer ethics is a relatively young discipline,hence it needs time both for reflection and for exploring alternative ethical standpoints in building up its own theoretical framework. Feminist ethics is offered as one such alternative particularly to inform issues of equality and power. We argue that feminist ethics is not narrowly confined to ‘women's issues’ but is an approach with wider egalitarian applications. The rise of feminist ethics in relation to feminist theory in general is described and within that the work of Gilligan and others on an ‘ethic of care’. We argue for the need to connect theory to empirical evidence. Empirical studies of gender and business and computer ethics are reviewed. We note concerns with surveying a student audience, the issue of how far questionnaires and interviews can get to the heart of ethical beliefs and problems of performing statistical analyses of quantitative data.Although we recognize them, our own small survey cannot avoid all these problems. Nevertheless by refining our scenarios we are able to offer an alternative reading of a hacking problem in terms of an ethic of care thereby pointing a way forward for future research in computer ethics inspired by feminist theory.

Week 1 (8/15--8/17)

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? -- Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act II, Scene 2

Week 2 (8/22--8/24)

No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property, because no good case can exist for treating with special disfavor the work of the spirit and the mind. -- Mark Helprin

Week 3 (8/29--9/2)

The internet is amazing because it connects us with one another. But it’s also horrific because... it connects us with one another. -- Felicia Day, You're Never Weird on the Internet

Week 4 (9/5--9/9)

Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded. -- Fyodor Dostoevsky

Week 5 (9/12--9/16)

The Internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity. -- President Barack Obama
  • Breakout Recitation Topics (based on last week's required reading; choose one):
     
    • Hillary Clinton used a private email server for her correspondences while serving as U.S. Secretary of State. This has raised many questions about both the security of classified correspondence via email as well the ambiguious and complicated nature of the federal classification system. Was it ethical for Secretary Clinton to use a private email server for her work-related correspondences? To strengthen your argument use a workable ethical theory.
       
    • Donal Trump is on record for stating that he would be open to closing off parts of the Internet, "where we are at war with somebody." What kinds of Internet services and communications was Donal Trump referring to? Furthermore, what is one ethical issue that Trump may be facing related to this viewpoint and what is your stance on it? To strengthen your argument use a workable ethical theory.

BT and Sky launched filter services towards the end of 2013 while Virgin Media introduced its version in February 2014.

VTech has been the victim of a large cyber attack.


Week 6 (9/19--9/23)

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. -- Isaac Asimov
  • Breakout Recitation Topics (based on last week's required reading; choose one):
     
    • According to some of last week's readings, the United Kingdom has imposed regulations that require Internet Service Providers (operating within the country) to automatically enable Web filters for pornographic material. Was this action ethical? To strengthen your argument use one of the workable ethical theories discussed in lecture.
       
    • Briefly describe the scenario surrounding the VTech hack. From an ethical perspective, who should bear more moral responsibility for such hacks, the companies creating the products or the parents buying them? To strengthen your argument use one of the workable ethical theories discussed in lecture.

@TayandYou, Microsoft's 2016 millennial twitter A.I. bot.


Week 7 (9/26--9/30)

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect. -- Tim Cook
  • Breakout Recitation Topics (based on last week's required reading; choose one):
     
    • Briefly describe the terra incognita with respect to artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Based on the readings, identify and describe one ethical issue related to the engineering and standardization of AI. What is your stance on this ethical issue, and what do you believe is an effective compromise (if there is one)? To strengthen your argument use one of the workable ethical theories discussed in lecture.  

Image Credit: Waqas Khan

Tim Cook explained his position on the FBI's San Bernardino case. Photo Credit: @iphonedigital


Week 8 (10/3--10/7)

Hillary talked about the economy but won't mention the systemic problems that led to the cold-blooded murder of Harambe? -- Conley Lowrance 
  • Breakout Recitation Topics (based on last week's required reading; choose one):
     
    • What is universal strong encryption, and how does it relate to the Apple vs. FBI case? The United States government is concerned that it cannot do its job effectively in the face of such encryption technology. What is your stance on this ethical issue, and what do you believe is an effective compromise (if there is one)? To strengthen your argument use one of the workable ethical theories discussed in lecture.

Image Credit: @theCHIVE 


Week 9 (10/10--10/14)

Silk Road was founded on libertarian principles and continues to be operated on them. It is a great idea and a great practical system…It is not a utopia. It is regulated by market forces, not a central power (even I am subject to market forces by my competition. No one is forced to be here). The same principles that have allowed Silk Road to flourish can and do work anywhere human beings come together. The only difference is that the State is unable to get its thieving murderous mitts on it. -- The Dread Pirate Roberts
  • Breakout Recitation Topics (based on last week's required reading; choose one):
     
    • According to Kien (2013), internet memes are "a type of content that thrives in the virtual environment, seeming to take on lives of their own that disconnects the signifiers from their origins.” They are a "unique media phenomenon in the context of our globally networked condition." In summer 2016, a collection of memes related to the late gorilla, Harambe, became popular. Harambe was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in order to save the life of a four-year-old child who fell into his cage. Identify and describe one ethical issue related to the use of Harambe in some of these internet memes. What is your stance on that ethical issue? To strengthen your argument use one of the workable ethical theories discussed in lecture.

Image Credit: Tomer Hanuka


Week 10 (10/17--10/21)

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -- Benjamin Franklin
  • Breakout Recitation Topics (based on last week's required reading; choose one):
     
    • Briefly describe what some people may consider a moral grey area with respect to Tor and the Silk Road, then argue whether or not it is ethical. To strengthen your argument use one of the workable ethical theories discussed in lecture.

Week 11 (10/24--10/28)

Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right. -- Isaac Asimov
  • Breakout Recitation Topics (based on last week's required reading; choose one):
     
    • Is it ethical to espouse that privacy is an essential human right while at the same time advocating new technologies that limit your privacy and the privacy of others? To strengthen your argument draw from last week's required reading and use one of the workable ethical theories discussed in lecture.

Therac-25

A deployed Swiss GDF-005


Week 12 (10/31--11/4)

What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan. -- Jason Fried, Rework
  • Breakout Recitation Topics (based on last week's required reading; choose one):
     
    • In 2007, nine South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers were killed and 14 injured by the Oerlikon GDF-005 system during a training exercise at the SANDF Battle School at Lohatla in the Northern Cape province. One of the guns jammed while firing and had to be repaired by technicians. Shortly after the gun was cleared to fire again, it malfunctioned and entered automatic mode, breaking through its traversal-restriction safety mechanisms and firing. With respect to the Oerlikon GDF-005 incident, identify which stakeholders acted the most unethically and why. To strengthen your argument use both a workable ethical theory as well as ideas, concepts, and items from the IEEE and/or ACM codes of ethics.
       
    • The Therac-25 was a radiation therapy machine produced by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) in 1982 that was involved in at least six accidents between 1985 and 1987, in which patients were given massive overdoses of radiation. Because of concurrent programming errors, it sometimes gave its patients radiation doses that were hundreds of times greater than normal, resulting in death or serious injury. These accidents highlighted the dangers of software control of safety-critical systems, and they have become a standard case study in health informatics and software engineering. With respect to the Therac-25 incidents, identify which stakeholders acted the most unethically and why. To strengthen your argument use both a workable ethical theory as well as ideas, concepts, and items from the IEEE and/or ACM codes of ethics.

Edward Snowden


Week 13 (11/7--11/11)

Citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrong-doing simply because they'll be destroyed for it: the conscience forbids it. -- Edward Snowden

Week 14 (11/14--11/18)

Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken. -- Jane Austen

Week 15 (11/27--12/02)

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. -- Henry David Thoreau
  • Breakout Recitation Topic (choose one): 

    [This week, the recitations will be a little less formal. The TA should lead discussion if time permits]
     
    • Some critics and skeptics suggest that the digital divide is not really an ethical issue, because there have always been divisions or "divides" between groups. For example, we saw that some critics point out there is a "Mercedes-Benz Divide" and that most of us fall on the wrong side of this "divide." Is the division between those who have and do not have access to cybertechnology similar to or different from the division between those who own and do not own Mercedes-Benz automobiles? Explain. To strengthen your argument draw from last week's required reading and use one of the workable ethical theories discussed in lecture.
       
    • What obligations does the United States have, as a democratic nation concerned with guaranteeing equal opportunities for all its citizens, to ensure that all Americans have full access to the Internet? Does the United States also have an obligation to developing countries to ensure tat they have global access to the Internet? If so, what is the extent  of those obligations? To strengthen your argument draw from last week's required reading and use one of the workable ethical theories discussed in lecture.

Final Exam (12/9 from 8AM-11AM)

  • Important Information:
     
    • Format: 4 Short Essays (Choose 3)
       
    • Prompts: The essay prompts will be given to you on the last day of lecture (WED 11/30). 
       
    • You will need to buy and bring a Blue Book. These are available at the UGA Bookstore. Please do not write in your Blue Book prior to the exam.
       
    • You are allowed to use one standard 3 by 5 inch (76.2 by 127.0 mm) notecard of notes that are hand-written for this final exam. You will be required to turn in the notecard with your exam.

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