- To understand key ethical issues affecting contemporary computing
- To develop skills in ethical reflection and debate
- To reflect critically and at length on one key aspect of computer ethics in written form
The aim of the course is to help students develop knowledge of, and insight into, ethical implications of computers in society and the professional responsibility of computer scientists. The course will cover ethical aspects of the design, implementation and use of computer systems and software, and develop practical skills for moral reasoning and responsible behavior. The course will emphasize issues related to professional responsibility, privacy, safety, cybersecurity, intellectual property, free speech, gaming, data analytics, AI, and automation. It will also emphasize the role of the engineers, and their ability to make ethically problematic decisions that directly influence the design of the computer system.
After taking this course, students will have a developed knowledge of key ethical concerns in contemporary computing, be equipped with a core understanding of philosophical concepts in ethical analysis, and be able to engage critically in public debate. As well as debating issues in class, students will provide written work focusing on cores issue of computing ethics, detailing the nature of the issue, those affected, and means of mitigating legitimate concerns.
The assessment will consist of one group assignment and one exam.
The assignment will be 6,000 words to be completed in groups of 4 or 5. Groups will be able to choose one from four possible case studies to analyze. They will have three weeks to complete this assignment.
The exam will consist of a 2,000 word essay to be written at home by each individual student in the space of 3 hours. The feedback from the assignment (to be completed and graded before the exam is set) will then also help to inform the students as to areas on which to concentrate in revision
With a choice of four questions for the exam and four for the assignment, the two can cover the eight teaching sessions without overlap, so there will be no problem of students taking one subject for the assignment and using the same readings for the exam.