Ethics - UPS Math & CS

pucefakeAI and Robotics

Nov 30, 2013 (3 years and 6 months ago)


Turn in your edited Assignment 2 drafts to the front of the

Make sure your draft includes

your name and the
names of your editor!



ICS 139w


A reminder:

Mutual Respect

No wrong answers

(though some answers are more socially acceptable than others)

(Close your laptops)

Goals and Outcomes

The goal is to develop your

ethical perception and imagination

Students will be able to…

Recognize the existence and basis of ethical issues

Consider an ethical situation from a variety of
perspectives and views

Apply ethical tests and codes to the analysis of a situation

An example:



Ethics are principals for
how to do the right thing

From Greek word

meaning “

Study of morality

distinction between right and wrong

Ethics are

what people

do instead of how people



held to higher ethical standards

Computer Ethics

is a
force multiplier

Computers adds new ethical concerns:

New entities (software, web sites, mass communication,

New levels of complexity and unreliability

New domains of action (virtuality)

Some Topics in Computer Ethics


Security and information integrity

Ownership and accountability

speech and censorship

Online etiquette

Cybernetics and virtuality

Green computing


… and more!


“The greatest good for the greatest number of people”

Does an action cause more good than harm?

If everyone followed a rule, would it lead to greater overall

Were BART’s actions ethical from a utilitarian perspective?


“Treat everyone equally”

How equally does an action distribute harm/benefit among
members of a group?

What are morally justifiable reasons for treating people

Need, merit, effort, fault, etc.


Equality as a American social value


Natural Rights

“Inalienable Rights”

.g., right not to be killed

Given by nature?

Are morals universal? (Kant)


each person decides for themselves (moral relativism)

ecided by social believe structure (anthropological relativism)

Ethical Tests

How do we tell what is right or wrong? How do we make
these decisions?

Ethical tests:

we can use to think about whether
an action is ethical

Ethical Tests

/Beneficence Test

“Does it do less harm and more good than alternatives?”

e.g., Institutional Review Board

Publicity Test

“Would I want this choice published in a newspaper?”

Presentation of self to others and self (consistency)

Reversibility Test

“Would I think it was a good choice if I were affected by it?”


(also a good skill for design!)

Code of
Ethics Test

“What do the rules of my profession say?”

ACM Code of Ethics

Association for Computing Machinery

Why have professional organizations?

principle code of ethics for software engineers


Should not be used in isolation

Not exhaustive, but illustrative

A guide, not an algorithm

give thought to the principles

Reviewing the Code

Divide into 8 groups

Review the clauses for your principle:

that is ambiguous?

Anything you disagree with?

Redundancies or discrepancies? If so, what is the difference?

How might this principle be applied (i.e., in the BART case?)

Your goal is to make sure everyone in your group is an
expert on your principle!

Reviewing the Code

Jigsaw! (regroup)

Explain (teach) your principle to your new group

How is your section different from theirs?

Do you have any overlap?

Does everyone agree on the principles?

Which principles seem most important?

Come up with

observations/opinions to share with the

ACM Code of Ethics



Software engineers shall act consistently with the public interest.


Software engineers shall act in a manner that is in
the best interests of their client and employer, consistent with the public



Software engineers shall ensure that their products and related
modifications meet the highest professional standards possible.



Software engineers shall maintain integrity and independence in
their professional judgment.



Software engineering managers and leaders shall subscribe
to and promote an ethical approach to the management of software
development and maintenance.



Software engineers shall advance the integrity and reputation
of the profession consistent with the public interest.



Software engineers shall be fair to and supportive of their



Software engineers shall participate in lifelong learning regarding the
practice of their profession and shall promote an ethical approach to the
practice of the profession

Midterm Evaluations

Midterm evaluations of

(in email and EEE)

What can I do to improve the class?

What can I do to better help you learn to write?

Is there anything I am missing?



Case Studies

Shuffle one more time

Discuss your case study as a group

Who are the decision makers? What options are available to them?

What is the ethical course of action? Why do you say that?

Use the ethical tests in your evaluation of the situation




Code of Ethics
(which principles apply here?)

Case 1: George and the Jet

George Babbage is an experienced software developer working for Acme Software
Company. Mr. Babbage is now working on a project for the U.S. Department of
Defense, testing the software used in controlling an experimental jet fighter. George
is the quality control manager for the software. Early simulation testing revealed
that, under certain conditions, instabilities would arise that could cause the plane to
crash. The software was patched to eliminate the specific problems uncovered by
the tests. After these repairs, the software passed all the simulation tests. George is
not convinced that the software is safe. He is worried that the problems uncovered
by the simulation testing were symptomatic of a design flaw that could only be
eliminated by an extensive redesign of the software. He is convinced that the patch
that was applied to remedy the specific tests in the simulation did not address the
underlying problem. But, when George brings his concerns to his superiors, they
assure him that the problem has been resolved. They further inform George that
any major redesign effort would introduce unacceptable delays, resulting in costly
penalties to the company.

There is a great deal of pressure on George to sign off on the system and to allow it
to be flight
tested. It has even been hinted that, if he persists in delaying the
system, he will be fired. What should George do next

Case 2:



Jones owns her own consulting business, and has several people working
for her.

is currently designing a database management system for the
personnel office of
, a mid
sized company that makes toys.


management in the design process from the start of the
project. It is now time to decide about the kind and degree of security to build into
the system.


has described several options to the client. The client has decided to opt
for the least secure system because the system is going to cost more than was
initially planned, and the least secure option is the cheapest security option.

knows that the database includes sensitive information, such as
performance evaluations, medical records, and salaries. With weak security, she
fears that enterprising

employees will be able to easily access this
sensitive data. Furthermore, she fears that the system will be an easy target for
external hackers.

feels strongly that the system should be more secure
than it would be if the least secure option is selected.

Ms. Jones has tried to explain the risks to
, but the CEO, the CIO, and
the Director of Personnel are all convinced that the cheapest security is what they
want. Should Jones refuse to build the system with the least secure option?

Case 3: The Best Choice for the Job

Juan Rodriguez is a private consultant who advises small businesses about their
computer needs. Juan examines a company's operations, evaluates their
automation needs, and recommends hardware and software to meet those needs.

Recently, Juan was hired by a small, private hospital interested in upgrading their
system for patient records and accounting. The hospital had already solicited
proposals for upgrading the system, and hired Juan to evaluate the proposals
they'd received. Juan carefully examined the proposals on the basis of the systems
proposed, the experience of the companies that bid, and the costs and benefits of
each proposal. He concluded that Tri
Star Systems had proposed the best system
for the hospital, and he recommended that the hospital should buy the Tri
system. He included a detailed explanation for why he thought the Tri
Star bid was
the best.

Juan did not reveal to the hospital that he is a silent partner (a co
owner) in Tri
Systems. Was Juan's behavior unethical? We will assume for our discussion that
Juan evaluated the bids in good faith, and sincerely believed that Tri
Star had given
the best bid

Case 4: Intersections

Alison Turner, a highway safety engineer, has to prioritize projects in a
county with diverse traffic patterns. She considers two intersections that
need safety improvements. One is an urban intersection that handles
about 2400 cars per day. The other is a rural intersection that handles
about 600 cars per day. The annual number of fatal accidents at each
intersection is virtually identical (approximately 2), but the
number of
minor injury accidents and the amount of property
the urban
intersection are substantially greater. There is just enough money left in
this year's budget to improve one of the intersections. The result of the
improvement at either intersection will be to cut the number of annual
fatalities roughly in half. There will be a significant reduction in minor
injury accidents and property damage if the improvement is made at
the urban intersection.

To which improvement should Alison give priority? There may not be
any room in the budget to improve the other intersection in the future.

Case 5: Dinner

Jack Strong is seated between Tom Evans and Judy Hanson at a dinner meeting of
a local industrial engineering society. Jack and Judy have an extended discussion
of a variety of concerns, some of which are related to their common engineering
interests. At the conclusion of the dinner, Jack turns to Tom, smiles and says, "I'm
sorry not to have talked with you more tonight, but she's better looking than you."

As a younger engineer, Judy is anxious to be recognized first and foremost as a
good engineer. She is well aware of the stereotypical view that women are not as
well suited for engineering as men. She did not often encounter open
manifestations of this attitude while in college. More than 20% of her engineering
classmates were women, the faculty were supportive, the male students did not
make her feel she had chosen the wrong profession, and she graduated near the
top of her class. However, matters quickly changed on her first job. She found that
she was the only woman engineer in her division. Now, even after a year on the job,
it seems she has to struggle to get others to take her ideas seriously. So, she
enjoyed "talking shop" with Jack at the dinner. But she was stunned by his remark
to Tom, however innocently it may have been intended. Suddenly she saw the
conversation in a very different light. Once again she sensed that she was not being
taken seriously as an engineer.

Was Jack's remark appropriate? How should Judy respond? How should Tom

Assignment 3

Write a personal response to

of these case studies

Discuss the different decision makers and options

Weigh the ethical pros and cons of particular actions

Consider the situation from different view points

Include personal opinions (they will not affect your score)


copy due to EEE on
Friday Midnight

Assignment 4

Write a document that
makes an argument

Should be about the system or topic of Assignment 2

Thesis or argument can be:

A change to the system

An argument for adoption

for a
complex interpretation or

other argument (check with

Details on syllabus

Bring a complete draft of the paper to class on

Tuesday Midnight

Note on Assignments

Assignment 3 due Friday,

Assignment 4 due Tuesday

Assignment 5 draft on Wednesday, due next Friday

You will need to

be working on
multiple assignments at
, so don’t put it off!