Ethical Issues in Software Design

Computer Science 263


Chuck Huff

MWF

9:05-10:00 AM in HH 514

current as of 4/6/06

Holland Hall 303, 646-3169
Mail to the Prof
Office Hours: send email for an appointment.
Mail to the class


Links to Course Items

Required Texts
Charles Huff & William Frey
Good Computing: A Virtue Approach to Computer Ethics
Harry Collins & Trevor Pinch The Golem at Large: What you should know about technology
Douglas Schuurman Vocation: Discerning our callings in life

Welcome to the ethics course in the Computer science major. I plan for this class to introduce you to the real social and ethical issues that surround almost any software project. The point is not to ponder ethical conundrums, but to develop knowledge and skills that will help you address ethical issues as a software professional.

Readings

The primary text for this class is in process. Bill Frey, a philosopher and Jose Cruz, a computer scientist, both at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, and I have a text under contract with Jones & Bartlett (HFC in schedule). In process means that you will be seeing some chapters that are in their fourth or fifth draft (based on student feedback), other chapters that are hot off the wordprocessor. Your responses to the text will shape subesquent versions.

Two smaller books will also be assigned. Schuurman's book on Vocation (S in schedule) is included to help you think about what meaning you might find in your career. Collins & Pinch on The Golem (CP in schedule) is a quick introduction to the science and technology studies literature. There will be a few additional readings (e.g. on organizational climate and on teamwork) that I will hand out or point you to on the web.

The main event: Team STA Projects

The class will together be analyzing the ethical and social issues that are raised by the web site that is being implemented in Northfield Citizen's Online. They plan to use RSS to pipe local (and some non-local) blogs through the northfield.org site. You have been assigned to teams that will each undertake an independent socio-technical analysis of some portion of the project being developed. There will be a series of 6 products that your team will produce over the term, culminating in a written report and oral presentation of your recommendations to your contact person. Your grade on this project will be a combination of team member's rating of your work, a rating given by the client (in this case, your contact person at northfield.org), and the grade given by the instructor (that's me).

Concept Exams

There will be two concept exams that you will take as a team. They will be based on a set of basic and intermediate concepts that are covered in the various chapters. In addition there is a set of questions that require the use of the concepts to answer. The concept exam will ask your team to identify and discuss a subset of the concepts and also answer some subset of the questions. I will hand out in class the final subset, and teams can take that hour to ask any questions they might have. The exam is due at the end of class the next class day. Thus the exam is a team take-home, but it is also closed to any resources.

Grading

Item

Percent Grade

Concepts Exams
20

Issues Presentation

10

Team STA

70

Late Policy

Late papers will be reduced according to the following schedule: up to 24 hrs late = -5%, between 1 & 3 days late = -25%, 3 days to 1 week late = -50%. Papers beyond a week late will not be accepted. Grace is available if the lateness is the result of an oversight or accident on the part of one of the members of your group. Negotiation is possible based on hardship. It is your responsibility to keep track of time and to turn your paper in. I will not track you down. Lateness for a product or an appointment for the client is very serious.

Disability Accomodation

If you have a documented disability that will impact your work in this class, please contact me to discuss your needs. Additionally, you will need to register with Student Disability Services located at the Academic Support Center in Room 1 of the Old Main Annex. All such discussions will be confidential.


Schedule

Topic
Assignment

Comment

Feb
6
STS, STA, Overview
W
8
STS & Interviews
HFC Chap 1 & Chap 2 to p. 13
F
10
Client Interview
Griff in Class
M
13

Teams meet to design Interview

Huff in Philosophy Class
W
15
Mapping an STS

HFC Chap 2 23-end; Chap 11; Therac

F
17
Patriot & Challenger
CP 1 & 2
M
20
Lambs & AIDS
CP 6 & 7
W
22
Information Interview Plans
 
F
24
   
M
27
Methods
HFC Chap 2, 12-22
Mar
1
More Methods
F
3
Teams Meet for Data Collection Plans
Huff in Jacksonville
M
6
Still More Methods
W
8
Privacy
Machado
F
10
M
13
Safety
Therac Case
 
W
15
Data Collection Plans
Blogging
F
17
Data Collection Plans
Finish Blogging, Then Content
M
20
Library Resources
in RL
W
22
Data Collection Plans
Overview/Interface
F
24
Data Collection Plans
& Midterm Conversation
Midterm Announced
M
27
Break
W
29
Break
F
31
Break
Apr
3
Solution Generation
HFC Chap 3
W
5
Philosophical Theory
HFC Chap 12
F
7
Testing Solutions
HFC Chap 4
M
10
Implementation
HFC Chap 5
W
12
Hughes
Whistleblowing
Midterm Due Thurs
F
14
Easter
M
18
Easter
W
19
BioMatrix
Online Speech
F
21
Bible, Theology, Vocation
S 2 & 3
 
M
24
Vocation done badly
S4
 
W
26
Choosing in a Vocation
S5 & 6
 
F
28
Free
May
1
Results Reports
Content, then Blogging, then Interface
W
3
Results Reports
F
5
Solutions Reports
Content, then Blogging, then Interface
M
8
Solutions Reports
W
10
Issues Presentations
F
12
Issues Presentations
M
15
Issues Presentations
F
19
Final Oral Reports
9-11 AM

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