Instructor: Credit: 3 credits Course Information Course Description

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CPSC 3610: Ethical and Social Issues in Computing

Credit: 3 credits
Course Information
Course Description:
This course examines the ethical issues arising from advances in computer technology and the responsibility that computer professionals and users have in regards to computer use by focusing on the intrinsic link between ethics and the law, how both try to define the validity of human actions, and on the moral and ethical dilemmas created by computer technology that challenge the traditional ethical and moral concepts.

  1. To familiarize you with the existence of computer abuse, laws pertaining to such abuse and legal gray areas.

  2. To introduce to you the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) codes of ethics.

  3. To provide you with the context to appreciate the value of technology and to understand that technology is not neutral, that it creates ethical and moral muddles that must be dealt with.

  4. To create and nurture an ideal atmosphere for academic dialogue, debate, and question-answer sessions among you intended to deepen your understanding of technology and its effects on society.

  5. To improve your oral and written communication skills.

  6. To affect your behavior by challenging you to examine ethical and moral situations, think through them and identify relevant support systems.

Course Requirements:
1. Regular class attendance.

2. Active class participation in all in-class agora discussions; this means you must spend some quality

time reading and preparing for class meetings and discussions. For each agora discussion,

a paper will be assigned, read and discussed. For each assigned paper, each student must write a

reaction statement that must include:

  • both a personal and research responses (minimum: one double spaced typed page).

  • questions from the reading you would like us to discuss as a class, (minimum: 2 questions).

The responses together with the questions must be handed in one class period before the scheduled discussion of the assigned paper!

3. One (mid-term) and a final examination will be given. There will be NO exam make up.

4. Besides class discussions, there will also be concurrent online discussions of current issues relevant to the class.

Nature of Online discussions ( e-discussion):

  • Each student will be responsible for posting one informative journal or newspaper article dealing with or relevant to the issues being discussed in class. Each posted article should include a one-page commentary by the student to ignite an online discussion by the class. Commentaries must:

  • include your reactions to the posting - why it attracted your attention; background info the class audience may need to understand the posting, related issues the class audience may want to look into; what we are supposed to learn from it; and at least two questions/discussion topics your classmates can respond to.

( Remember to check my web-page for online sources of information and of

course we have a library - you can cut and paste the whole item, - just one item the whole semester, but since we cannot discuss all the items at the end of the semester, we will need to start the discussions in week 2.

  • be original (i.e., must not be duplications of comments made earlier by other students).

  • be supported by referenced evidence from other articles, books, journals and knowledgeable persons.

  • be well written (points will be deducted for comments that have serious spelling or grammatical errors.)

  • Each student is required to contribute to the e-discussion in response to posted articles at least five times. ( 2% each response/contribution for a total of 10% a semester) Responses should not be less than half a page - it can be an opinion, added info, suggestion, observation or constructive criticism- overall we must profit from it!!!

(PS- 5 times are in response to 5 different postings) but you can make as many contributions are possible!

Try to check your e-mall before each class meeting.

5. On a number of occasions, video clips will be shown in class at the end of which a discussion will follow. Before each discussion, however, each student will answer five reaction questions about the video clip. Answers to these questions will be graded.

6. Individual extra credit assignments for the purpose of propping up a bad grade will not be given.

7. Notes taking is encouraged.
20% agora and video discussions:

  • 10 % agora discussions

  • 10% individual attendance and discussions

15% Online discussions

- 5% posted commentaries and questions

- 10% online contributions ( 5 minimum - 2% each contribution)

15% Mid-term examination – covering text material and content of class discussions.

30% Two essays:

  • one well researched and documented position essay on one chosen topic – 15%

  • one essay resulting from agora discussions on a student’s chosen topic – 15%.

20% Final comprehensive examination – covering text material and content of class discussions.
Grading Scale:
90+ = A; 80-89 = B; 70-79 = C; 60-69 = D; below 60 = F
Required Text:
Joseph M. Kizza, Ethical and Social Issues in the Information Age. Third Edition. Springer 2007.
Recommended and Reference Texts:

  1. Joseph M. Kizza. Computer Network Security and Cyber Ethics. 3rd edition, McFarland Publishers, 2011.

  2. Joseph M. Kizza, Civilizing the Internet: Concerns and Efforts Towards Regulations. McFarland Publishers, 2006.

  3. Joseph M. Kizza, Social and Ethical effects of the Computer Revolution. Second Edition, McFarland Publishers 1997.

  4. Joseph M. Kizza, Computer Ethics, Proceedings, ACM Press, 1996.

  5. Sara Baase. A Gift of Fire, Second Edition. Prentice-Hall, 2003.

  6. Paul A. Alcorn. Practical Ethics for a Technological World. Prentice-Hall, 2001.

  7. Kevin Bowyer, Ethics and Computing: Living Responsibly in a Computerized World., IEEE Computer Society Press, 1996.

  8. Jacques Berluer and Diane Whitehouse (eds), An Ethical Global Information Society:Culture and Democracy revisited, Chapman & Hill, 1998.

  9. Jacques Berleur and Klaus Brunnstein. Ethics in Computing: Codes spaces for Discussion and the Law. Chapman & Hill, 1997.

  10. Richard G. Espstein. The Case of the Killer Robot. John Wiley, 1997.

  11. Chuck Huff and Thomas Finholt. Social Issues in Computing: Putting Computing in its Place, McGraw-Hill, 1994.

  12. Nancy G. Leveson. Safeware:System Safety and Computers, Addison-Wesley, 1995.

  13. Peter Neumann. Computer related Risks, ACM Press, 1995.

  14. Robert C. Solomon, Morality and the Good Life: An Introduction to Ethics through Classical Cases, Second Edition, McGraw-Hill, 1992.

  15. Karen A. Forcht, Computer Security Management, Boyd & Fraser Publishing, 1994.

  16. Abraham Edel, Elizabeth Flower and Finbarr W. O'connor, Morality, Philosophy and Practice: Historical and Contemporary Readings and Studies., Random House, 1989.

Major Discussion Topics:

  • History of Computing

  • Moral and Ethical theories (lecture text, readings, discussions)

  • Professionalism and professional codes of conduct (lecture text, audio, readings, discussions)

  • Ethics, Technology and Value (audio, readings, discussions)

  • Anonymity, Security, Privacy and Civil Liberties (lecture text, audio, readings, discussions)

  • Intellectual Property Rights (Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, trade secrets, and Rights of Publicity) (lecture text, audio, readings, discussions)

  • Social Computing

  • Software Issues: Risks and Liabilities (virus, worms, piracy, hacking) (lecture text, audio, readings, discussions)

  • Workplace Issues ( whistleblowing, home office, privacy, electronic monitoring, outsourcing, downsizing) (lecture text, audio, readings, discussions)

  • Reliability and Risk

  • Prevention, Detection, and Digital Forensics

  • Artificial Intelligence, Virtual reality and Expert Systems (lecture text, audio, readings, discussions)

  • Cyberspace Issues – The Internet, CDA, Free speech, electronic commerce, pornography, gambling, language and cultural imperialism and the politics of regulation (lecture text, audio, readings, discussions)

Course Outline
Week 1: Introduction to Social and Ethical Computing

Chapter 1: Class 1: Introduction and History of computing

-Class 2: The beginning of irresponsible computing
Week 2: Morality and Ethical Theories
Chapter 1: Ethical and Social..

  • Class 1: Why you need to study Computer Ethics

  • Class 2: Morality and Ethical Theories

Lecture and discussion of cases

Reading Paper 1: Scientists given cloning go-ahead

"Researchers clone first mammals from adult cells using new technique"

Human cloning: Should there be limits on the technology of human cloning?
Week 3: Ethics, Technology and Value

Chapter 2 of Ethical and Social …

- Class 1: Ethics, Technology, and Value. Agora discussion of Reading Paper 1. Should scientists be allowed to grow human replacement parts? What are legal, moral and ethical implications?

Week 4: Ethics and the Professions

Chapter 3 of Ethical and Social …

- Class 1: -Lecture: professionalism, codes of ethics, responsibility and enforcement

- Class 2: Video : “Whistleblowers: Risks and Responsibilities”, : The Case of the Challenger
Weeks 5: Anonymity, Security, Privacy and Civil Liberties

Chapter 4 of Ethical and Social …

  • Class 1: Lecture and discussion: E-mail privacy and ownership, anonymous re-mailers, and spamming

  • Class 2: Video: (1) The Net (2) “Identity Theft” and “ Privacy Lost”

- Reading Paper 2: "The Interne't Challenge to Privacy"

  • Paper one due

Weeks 6: Intellectual Property Rights and Computer Technology

Chapter 5 of Ethical and Social …

  • Class 1: Lecture: copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and right of publicity

  • Class 2: Conference presentations,

Week 7: Social Context of Computing

Chapter 7 of Ethical and Social ….

  • Class 1: The three main issues of social computing

  • Class 2: : Examination #

  • Paper 2 Assigned.

Week 8: Conferences

  • Class 1: Conference presentations

  • Class 2 : Conference presentations

Week 9: Software Issues: Risks and Liabilities

Chapter 8 of Ethical and Social …

  • Class 1: Lecture and class discussion

  • Class 2: Video: “Reliability and Risk” and “The Hackers”

Week 10: Computer Crimes

Chapter 9 of Ethical and Social …

  • Class 1: Lecture and Agora discussion of types and history of computer crimes.

  • Class 2 : Video (NBC report) and discussion

Week 11: New Frontiers: Artificial Intelligence, Virtualization and Virtual Reality and Cyberspace

Chapter 10 of Ethical and Social …

  • Class 1: Lecture and leadership discussion: Freedom of speech, the CDA and you. Internet filters and blockers.

  • Class 2: Video: "Life on the Internet", Hate Groups, and Anti-Hate Programs

Week 12: Ethical, Privacy and Security Issues in the Online Social Networks Ecosystem

Chapter 11 of Social and Ethical ….

  • Class 1: Lecture and discussion.

  • Class 2: Video: " HATE GROUPS" and " HI-TECH HATE",

Reading Paper 3: (to be assigned)
Week 13: Cyberspace, Cyber Crimes and Internet Issues

Chapter 11 of Ethical and Social …

  • Class 1: Lecture and discussion: Regulating the Internet, CDA, Free speech, electronic commerce, pornography, gambling, language and cultural imperialism and the politics of regulation.

  • Class 2: Discussion of (e-discussion) Cyberspace-related issues.,

  • Paper two due

Week 14: Mobile Systems and Their Intractable Social, Ethical and Secuity Issues; Computer Crime Investigations; Biometric.

- Class1: Discussion of anyone of the topics above – if time allows.

- Class 2: Video” Inside the Law

Week 15: Presentations – Looking at the future

  • Class 1: Presentations

  • Class 2: Presentations

  • Review and Discussions of issues in the news

Final Examination:

  1. Lectures – to provide new information and heighten your curiosity.

  2. Guest lectures – to get new and sometimes contrary views.

  3. Agora group discussions - to improve your oratory, discussion and presentation skills

  4. Videotapes – for video impact and thought provoking situations.

  5. Role-playing and mock trials - for real situation impact.

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