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Integrating Computer Ethics into the Computer Science

HS Thomas
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Joined: May 15, 2002
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This may not be the right forum but here goes...
Should ethics around using computers be taught along with Computer Science.
What are the dangers if it isn't.. Wouldn't there be a mismatch between aligning Business ethics and Computer ethics ?
* Example case: Star Wars debate
Ever since President Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, computer scientists have been engaged in a lively debate on the merits of various proposals. All the current SDI proposals include a large computing system, and computer science students learning about complexity analysis are in a good position to intelligently examine arguments about SDI. Many different articles present technical opinions on the computational challenges inherent in SDI, including Parnas, 1985; Lin, 1985; Moore, 1985; Ornstein, 1986; New York Times Service, 1987.
* Ethical question: How do we distinguish between technical judgments and moral choices?
What are the technical merits of the arguments for continuing SDI research? What are the technical merits of the arguments against continuing SDI research? What are the technical merits for and against early development of an SDI system? What are the obstacles for an accurate estimate of the eventual complexity of an SDI system? In the article read, can you discern any political bias in the technical analysis presented? Assume that you believe that SDI as it is currently proposed is fatally flawed; could you take a job in SDI research because you believe that SDI research will have positive results that are not now predictable? Assume that you believe that SDI as currently proposed is realistic; would you give expert congressional testimony which deliberately oversimplified the situation so that the public would understand the concepts, even though they wouldn�t get a true picture of the complexity?
Lasse Koskela
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Should ethics around using computers be taught along with Computer Science.
They are teaching ethics for CS students in Finland, at least. Or are you talking about mandatory ethics classes?
What are the dangers if it isn't.. Wouldn't there be a mismatch between aligning Business ethics and Computer ethics ?
I can't come up with such a mismatch -- can you provide an example? Anyway, "hiding information within the company" is rarely the best way to succeed in the long term, I think.


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HS Thomas
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Originally posted by Lasse Koskela:
I can't come up with such a mismatch -- can you provide an example? Anyway, "hiding information within the company" is rarely the best way to succeed in the long term, I think.

I just wondered whether it would be the same as ethics on a business course.
Man vs Machine.
The CS programmer must promote the machine more , surely. And the business
ethics course promotes work for man, first. (even though it's a grind).
[ May 06, 2004: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Valentin Crettaz
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When I got my diploma a couple years ago, the director also gave us a kind of "charter of computer ethics" that everyone shall follow during his professional life, sort of like Hyppocrate's oath. I will get it from under my pile of papers and post it tomorrow or the day after


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HS Thomas
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Wow ,thanks Valentine.
[ May 06, 2004: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Tina Coleman
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Ethics in computer science: I'd almost posit that ethics in computer science would be ethics in whatever problem domain it was you were applying technology to. So, if I were building an accounting system, then the ethical domain would be that of accounting. In a medical system, I'd be worry about respecting the appropriate ethical rules in medicine. In a publishing system, I'd be worried about respecting copyright laws. Etc, etc.
I guess I'm interested in seeing the ethics list Valentin offered to post. I'm not getting the connection. Perhaps directly demonstrating the need for instruction in ethics...
Jeanne Boyarsky
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My grad school program integrates ethics into a bunch of the mandatory courses. It's not a course by itself, but it gets covered.


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Valentin Crettaz
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At the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, we had non technological courses, called Science, Technology and Society (STS) whose goal was to...

...make a personal study investigating the interaction Science Technology and Society (STS). The goal of the project is to investigate an STS theme picked by the student or a group of students. The student must
exhibit an understanding of the main factors that determine social benefit from technologies by end-users. He is supposed to identify a problematic situation as to the interaction between Science, Technology and Society, and to provide an answer in a 20-30 pages report using the adequate methods and tools for investigation.
A business-oriented option is also available � its goal is to write a strategic plan and a business plan for a new enterprise (using the concepts taught in the courses STS I to III). This project is run by groups of 2-3 people.
For the students interested in multi-disciplinary collaboration and business issues, this option can be tied to a "business" project done by an HEC student.
HS Thomas
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Valentine , was that it , the charter ?
Valentin Crettaz
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Nope, that's something else. I haven't yet had the time to look for it
Kishore Dandu
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When I graduated in India, there were no courses that were covering stuff related to ethics etc for computer programmers.
May be they might have introduced some in the well known institutes(like IIT) lately.


Kishore
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Mark Herschberg
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Originally posted by HS Thomas:

The CS programmer must promote the machine more , surely. And the business
ethics course promotes work for man, first. (even though it's a grind).


You're the only person I have ever seen argue this point of view. I don't know anyone else who feels that CS people must promote machines over man, or that business people must promote man over machines.

--Mark
HS Thomas
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Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:


You're the only person I have ever seen argue this point of view. I don't know anyone else who feels that CS people must promote machines over man, or that business people must promote man over machines.

--Mark


Not the only one, Mark.

Better Humans : The Age of Purposeful Machines

Man (or geniuses) have to try and keep up. And didn't Gary Kasparov drew with after being beaten by the world's best chess programs ? Apparently the matches didn't make for good exciting chess either.
The next matches would have to now that the innovativeness feel is past :
which is where the business value comes in, I think.
[ May 30, 2004: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Mark Herschberg
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Originally posted by HS Thomas:


Not the only one, Mark.

Better Humans : The Age of Purposeful Machines


Nothing in tht article supported your point of promoting machines over humans, just that AI is evolving.

--Mark
HS Thomas
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Continuing collecting what I think are relevant literature and waiting for Valentine to turn up some

Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About by Donald Knuth of The Art of Computer Programming fame would be an interesting read.

Or listen to :
Audio Video

[ June 08, 2004: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Valentin Crettaz
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Continuing collecting what I think are relevant literature and waiting for Valentine to turn up some
Yep, I haven't forgotten, I just have to dig out the boxes in which I put all my stuff after my studies... Sorry for the delay
Valentin Crettaz
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Hippocratic Oath For Software Engineers
People for the Ethical Treatment of Software
Dan Johnsson
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Joined: May 31, 2004
Posts: 24
On the serious side:

The Swedish union for engineers (and computer scientists) have formulated a
codex. It is longer then I have time to translate at the moment, but the core can basically be put:

"Do not engage in professional enterprises that are against your personal moral."

I think this catches the dilemma quite nicely.
[ June 11, 2004: Message edited by: Dan Johnsson ]
 
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