Linking Science and Social Issues

Why is Computer Ethics (Computer Science 324/Philosophy 324) a SENCER Model?

What are the capacious civic questions or problems addressed in the course?

The "Information Revolution", which began in the mid-twentieth century, is still in its early stages. Nevertheless, powerful and flexible computing and information technologies already have generated a vast array of social and ethical challenges. Examples include threats to privacy from massive databases, high-speed networks, data mining, workplace surveillance - electronic theft of intellectual property like music, video, film and text - catastrophic computer-related accidents such as airplane crashes and dangerous nuclear power plant shutdowns. These and many other issues are examined in this course, along with the computing and information technologies that generate them.

Of major interest is the role of computer professionals in society. Because the technologies which they create, maintain and administer are so powerful and flexible, computer professionals have a special responsibility to society to consider the possible negative impacts of their products, services and actions, and then take care to see that risks are minimized. Students in this course study a diversity of professional roles and responsibilities, as well as codes of ethics adopted by professional organizations in computer science.

What aspects of computer science and technology are covered in this course, and how are they linked to public policy questions?

The course covers a diversity of topics and cases where ethics and public policy issues may arise. Every major advance in information technology brings new risks and social issues, as well as new advantages and possibilities. Topics in the course include the development and use of information systems, both hardware and software components, and the need to design and use them wisely.

Examples of Social/Ethical Issues and Related Information Technology

Examples of Social/Ethical Issues and Related Information Technology (Text File 2kB Jul25 08)