Course: CS 3001-C Computing, Society, and Professionalism
Term: Spring 2022
Location: Instructional Center 103
Lecture Time: 3:30 pm - 4:20 pm, Mondays and Wednesdays
Section Times: Check Oscar or Buzzport for your discussion section time; all sections held in-person
Discussion: Piazza
Virtual Office Hours with Instructor: Fridays 11:00am - 12pm; meeting link on course Canvas
Virtual Office Hours with Section TA: Check your section Canvas
Head Teaching Assistant:
Tino Chikate [C12]
Teaching Assistants:
Tanuj Bohra [C13, C19]
Sanghavi Gaddam [C01, C04]
Harshith Kayam [C05, C11]
Ankith Kumar [C03, C07]
Yalini Kumar [C18, C21]
Allan Nguyen [C10, C16]
Sejal Sarkar [C08, C17]
Revanth Tiruveedhi [C02, C15]
Tony Tu [C06, C14]
Freya Wang [C09, C20]

Learning Objectives

In this class, you will learn about:

  • Ethics: What do "right" and "wrong" mean anyway? How is "ethical" different from "legal"? We'll learn about several philosophical approaches to ethics including utilitiarianism, Kantianism, social contract theory, and virtue ethics. The goal is for students to be able to address ethical dilemmas with reasoned arguments, grounded in a combination of these ethical theories.
  • Professional Ethics: What special responsibilities do we have as computing professionals? What do the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and ACM Code of Ethics say, and how can we use these in our daily practice?
  • Computing and Society: In what ways does computer technology impact society? We'll talk about a host of issues including privacy, intellectual property, and freedom of speech.

Assignments and Grading

Recitation Section Attendance and Participation - 15%
Homework Assignments (4 in all) - 25%
      Homework Assignment I | Homework Assignment II | Homework Assignment III | Homework Assignment IV
Term Paper - 25%
      Term Paper Proposal | Term Paper Outline | Full Term Paper
In-Person Midterm - 15%
Take-Home Final Exam (4/29 per final exam schedule; 24 hours available: 12am-11:59pm) - 20%

Sample midterm exercises are here, a sample final exam is here, and a sample term paper titled "Ethics of Worksplace Surveillance" is here (shared with the student's permission).

Attendance and Participation. Attendance and participation are core aspects of this course. Attendance in the recitation sections is required and will be noted by your section TA. If you need to miss a recitation section for a legitimate reason, please send an email to the Head TA and copy the TA of your section, preferably before class.

You may miss up to two recitation section attendances without it affecting your grade. Other legitimate reasons that are excused include COVID-19 or other illness/health emergencies, religious events, attending a professional conference, or a job interview.

Please note that exams are strongly based on material that is covered in the in-person lectures and the discussions in the recitation sections. Although the COVID-19 pandemic situation is volatile, the lectures for now will be/are in-person. Discussions in the recitations in a particular week will be based on the material covered in the lectures in the same week. If you do miss a recitation section, please do get notes from a classmate and follow along based on the recitation section class exercises made available on the course website.

Reference Format. Please use APA format for all references. APA format is described here.

ESL. If English is not your first language, you may request to not be graded on your writing for a particular individual assignment, including the term paper. This means you won't be penalized for bad writing, but you also won't get credit for good writing. To take advantage of this option, you must mark "ESL" (English as a Second Language) on the first page of your assignment/paper. This option is not available for group assignments. We still of course expect you to try to write in correct English, and will do our best to offer useful feedback on your writing.

Late Policy. Students need to submit all of their materials on or before the deadline to qualify for 100% credit. 24 hours delay will result in 25% penalty; 48 hours late submissions will incur 50% penalty. Materials submitted past 48 hours will not be accepted, and will be entered a zero grade.

Honor Code. This class abides by the Georgia Tech Honor Code. All assigned work is expected to be individual, except where explicitly written otherwise. You are encouraged to discuss the assignments with your classmates; however, what you hand in should be your own work. We will be thoroughly checking for plagiarism issues and any instance will be dealt with the Institute's recommended protocol.

Mental Health. As college students, it can be hard to prioritize your health, especially when you are pushed to prioritize academics, work, and extracurricular activities especially during a still ongoing pandemic, COVID-19. The instructor and Head TA are happy to talk to you privately if you need mental health related accommodations. Please also refer to the various campus resources to access timely, professional help as well as self-care tips.

COVID-19 Protocols. The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the world and our lives. If you test positive for COVID-19, suspect you may have been exposed to the virus, or feel sick due to a reason that may be contagious, please email the instructor, the head TA, and your section TA as soon as you can. To protect yourself and others in the class, we ask you to not come to the class or the recitation in such a situation; you will not be penalized in any way and your grade will not be affected. Similarly, if the instructor or any of the TAs test positive for COVID-19, suspect exposure, or feel sick due to a suspected infection, the lecture/recitation section will either be cancelled or held virtually (via BlueJeans or MS Teams), depending upon the specifics of the circumstances.

Finally, I highly encourage and request everyone coming to the classes to wear a well-fitting mask, and get fully vaccinated, including a booster shot; reach out to Stamps Health Services or your own health care provider if you still have questions about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Although as instructor I cannot require you to follow this COVID-19 safety protocol in the classroom, as Georgia Tech President Αngel Cabrera said "I count on you to do your part, just as I know you will ask and count on one another to do the same - for your protection and for the protection of everyone around you."

Required Texts

  • Ethics for the Information Age, by Michael Quinn (You may rent an electronic copy rather than buying it; you will need 8th Edition)
  • Articles available online.

The GT Library's Web Localizer is useful for research you need to do for this class. You may also need it to access some assigned readings, such as those on the ACM Digital Library.

Class Schedule *

Week 1 10-Jan Welcome and Overview Lecture Slides
12-Jan Case Study: Therac-25 Lecture Slides
Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 2 17-Jan MLK Day - No Class
19-Jan Do Artifacts Have Politics? Lecture Slides
Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 3 24-Jan Utilitarianism Lecture Slides
Recorded lecture; no in-person meeting
Homework 1 Due
26-Jan Deontology Lecture Slides
Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 4 31-Jan Social Contract Theory Lecture Slides
2-Feb Stakeholder Analysis Lecture Slides
Homework 2 Due Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 5 7-Feb Virtue Ethics Lecture Slides
9-Feb Professional Ethics Lecture Slides
Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 6 14-Feb Privacy I Lecture Slides
16-Feb Privacy II Lecture Slides
Term Paper Proposals Due Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 7 21-Feb Privacy and Governmental Surveillance Lecture Slides
23-Feb The USA Patriot Act Lecture Slides
Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 8 28-Feb Midterm Office Hours
02-Mar In-Class Midterm
No sections
Week 9 07-Mar Freedom of Speech Lecture Slides
09-Mar Regulating Online Speech Lecture Slides
Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 10 14-Mar Computer and Network Security Lecture Slides
16-Mar Intellectual Property (Guest Lecture) Instructor's Notes
Homework 3 Due Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 11 16-Mar Spring Break - No Class
18-Mar Spring Break - No Class
Week 12 28-Mar Algorithmic Surveillance Lecture Slides
30-Mar Technology and Pandemics Lecture Slides
Term Paper Outline Due Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 13 04-Apr Algorithmic Manipulation Lecture Slides
06-Apr Online Radicalization and Polarization Lecture Slides
Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 14 11-Apr Future of Work, Automation, Predictive Technologies Lecture Slides
13-Apr Algorithmic Bias and Fairness Lecture Slides
Homework 4 Due Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 15 18-Apr Research Ethics Lecture Slides
20-Apr Finals Office Hours (Virtual Only)
Full Term Papers Due Section Handout
Section Discussion Guide
Week 16 25-Apr Finals Prep (No Class) Prep Slides

Weekly Readings*

Week 1 (Jan 12): Case Study: Therac-25
• Quinn Chapter 8.5
• Leveson, N. (1995). Medical devices: The therac-25. Appendix of: Safeware: System Safety and Computers. [pdf]
     - Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm, The New York Times [link]
• Ganesh, T. (2014). Incident reporting and learning in radiation oncology: Need of the hour. Journal of Medical Physics/Association of Medical Physicists of India, 39(4), 203. [pdf]

Week 2 (Jan 19): Do Artifacts Have Politics?
• Winner, L. (1980). Do artifacts have politics?. Daedalus, 121-136. [pdf]
     - Planet Money episode 924: Stuck in China's Panopticon (time: 26:36) [link]
• Gillespie, T. (2014). The relevance of algorithms. Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality, and society, 167, 167. [pdf]

Week 3 (Jan 24): Utilitarianism
• Quinn Chapter 2.1-2.3, 2.7-2.8

Week 3 (Jan 26): Deontology
• Quinn Chapter 2.6
• Rachels, J (2011). The Elements of Moral Philosophy (7th Ed), Chapter 9: “Are there absolute moral rules?” [pdf]

Week 4 (Jan 31): Social Contract Theory
• Quinn Chapter 2.9
• Doody, R (2015). Criticisms of Rawls' Principles of Justice. [pdf]

Week 4 (Feb 2): Stakeholder Analysis
• Quinn 2.12
• Gilligan, C. (1993). In a different voice. Harvard University Press, pp. 24-39 [PDF on Canvas>Files]

Week 5 (Feb 7): Virtue Ethics
• Quinn Chapter 2.10-2.11
• Hursthouse, Rosalind and Pettigrove, Glen, "Virtue Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) [pdf]

Week 5 (Feb 9): Professional Ethics
• Quinn Chapter 9
• ACM Code of Conduct
• Anderson, R. E., Johnson, D. G., Gotterbarn, D., & Perrolle, J. (1993). Using the new ACM code of ethics in decision making. Communications of the ACM, 36(2), 98-107. [pdf]

Week 6 (Feb 14): Privacy I
• Quinn Chapter 5
• Acquisti, A., Brandimarte, L., & Loewenstein, G. (2015). Privacy and human behavior in the age of information. Science, 347(6221), 509–514. [pdf]

Week 6 (Feb 16): Privacy II
• O'Hara, K. (2013). Are we getting privacy the wrong way round?. IEEE Internet Computing, 17(4), 89-92. [pdf]
     - Zuckerberg: I know that people don't want privacy, CNet [link]
• Ohm, P. (2009). Broken promises of privacy: Responding to the surprising failure of anonymization. UCLA l. Rev., 57, 1701. [pdf]
     - "Anonymized" data really isn't and here’s why not, Ars Technica [link]
• The Solace of Oblivion: In Europe, the right to be forgotten trumps the Internet, The New Yorker [link]
     - Google wins landmark right to be forgotten case, BBC [link]

Week 7 (Feb 21): Privacy and Governmental Surveillance
• Quinn Chapter 6 (except 6.6)
• Botsman, R. (2017). Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens. Wired UK, 21. [pdf]
• The NSA's Secret Role in the US Assasination Program, The Intercept [link]

Week 7 (Feb 23): The USA PATRIOT Act
• Quinn Chapter 6.6
• Wikipedia articles: “The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” and “National Security Letters”
• Asinari, M. V. P., & Poullet, Y. (2004). The airline passenger data disclosure case and the EU-US debate. Computer Law & Security Review, 20(2), 98-116. [pdf]

Week 9 (Mar 7): Freedom of Speech and Networked Communications
• Quinn Chapter 3.2, 3.5-3.8; skim the rest of the chapter
• Warf, B. (2011). Geographies of global Internet censorship. GeoJournal, 76(1), 1-23. [pdf]

Week 9 (Mar 9): Regulating Online Speech
• Chandrasekharan, E., Pavalanathan, U., Srinivasan, A., Glynn, A., Eisenstein, J., & Gilbert, E. (2017). You can't stay here: The efficacy of reddit's 2015 ban examined through hate speech. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 1(CSCW), 1-22. [pdf]
     - Reddit bans 'Fat People Hate' and other subreddits under new harassment rules, The Verge [link]
• Chancellor, S., Pater, J. A., Clear, T., Gilbert, E., & De Choudhury, M. (2016, February). #thyghgapp: Instagram content moderation and lexical variation in pro-eating disorder communities. In Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 1201-1213). ACM. [pdf]
• Nott, L (2019) Does the First Amendment Protect Speech Made By Artificial Intelligence? Freedom Forum Institute [link]

Week 10 (Mar 14): Computer and Network Security, Computer Reliability
• Quinn Chapter 7, 8.1-8.4, 8.7-8.8

Week 10 (Mar 16): Intellectual Property
• Quinn Chapter 4.1-4.10

Week 12 (Mar 28): Algorithmic Surveillance
• Tufekci, Z. (2014). Engineering the public: Big data, surveillance and computational politics. First Monday, 19(7). [pdf]
     - Facebook Increasingly Reliant on A.I. To Predict Suicide Risk, NPR [link]
     - Policing the Future: In the aftermath of Ferguson, St. Louis cops embrace crime-predicting software, The Verge [link]
     - Colleges are turning students’ phones into surveillance machines, tracking the locations of hundreds of thousands, Washington Post [link]

Week 12 (Mar 30): Technology and Pandemics (Privacy and Surveillance)
• Guariglia, M., and Schwartz, A. Protecting Civil Liberties During a Public Health Crisis, Electronic Frontier Foundation. [link]
     - How Surveillance Could Save Lives Amid a Public Health Crisis, Wired [link]
• Servick, K. Cellphone tracking could help stem the spread of coronavirus. Is privacy the price? Science Magazine. [link]
• Brewster, T. Two Million Guinea Pigs And Counting: The Remarkable Rise Of Self-Monitoring In The Time Of Coronavirus, Forbes. [link]
• Raskar, R., Schunemann, I., Barbar, R., Vilcans, K., Gray, J., Vepakomma, P., Kapa, S. et al. "Apps Gone Rogue: Maintaining Personal Privacy in an Epidemic." arXiv preprint arXiv:2003.08567 (2020). [pdf]

Week 13 (Apr 4): Algorithmic Manipulation
• Starbird, K. (2017, May). Examining the alternative media ecosystem through the production of alternative narratives of mass shooting events on Twitter. In Eleventh International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media. [pdf]
• Vosoughi, S., Roy, D., & Aral, S. (2018). The spread of true and false news online. Science, 359(6380), 1146-1151. [pdf]
• Bessi, A., & Ferrara, E. (2016). Social bots distort the 2016 US Presidential election online discussion. First Monday, 21(11-7). [pdf]

Week 13 (Apr 6): Online Radicalization and Polarization
• Garrett, R. K. (2009). Echo chambers online?: Politically motivated selective exposure among Internet news users. Journal of computer-mediated communication, 14(2), 265-285. [pdf]
• Bakshy, E., Messing, S., & Adamic, L. A. (2015). Exposure to ideologically diverse news and opinion on Facebook. Science, 348(6239), 1130-1132. [pdf]
• Eslami, M., Rickman, A., Vaccaro, K., Aleyasen, A., Vuong, A., Karahalios, K., ... & Sandvig, C. (2015, April). I always assumed that I wasn't really that close to [her]: Reasoning about Invisible Algorithms in News Feeds. In Proceedings of the 33rd annual ACM conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 153-162). ACM. [pdf]

Week 14 (Apr 11): Future of Work, Automation, and Predictive Technologies
• Rotman, D. (2013). How technology is destroying jobs. Technology Review, 16(4), 28-35. [pdf]
     - Imagine Discovering That Your Teaching Assistant Really Is a Robot, The Wall Street Journal [link]
• Goldhahn, J., Rampton, V., & Spinas, G. A. (2018). Could artificial intelligence make doctors obsolete?. Bmj, 363, k4563. [pdf]
• Lazer, D., Kennedy, R., King, G., & Vespignani, A. (2014). The parable of Google Flu: traps in big data analysis. science, 343(6176), 1203-1205. [pdf]

Week 14 (Apr 13): Algorithmic Bias and Fairness
• Edelman, B., Luca, M., & Svirsky, D. (2017). Racial discrimination in the sharing economy: Evidence from a field experiment. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 9(2), 1-22. [pdf]
• Kay, M., Matuszek, C., & Munson, S. A. (2015, April). Unequal representation and gender stereotypes in image search results for occupations. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3819-3828). [pdf]
• Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D., & Graepel, T. (2013). Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 110(15), 5802-5805. [link]
• Wang, Y., & Kosinski, M. (2018). Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images. Journal of personality and social psychology, 114(2), 246. [pdf]
    - Researchers use facial recognition tools to predict sexual orientation. LGBT groups aren’t happy, Washington Post [link]

Week 15 (Apr 18): Research Ethics
• Kramer, A. D., Guillory, J. E., & Hancock, J. T. (2014). Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(24), 8788-8790. [pdf]
• Vitak, J., Shilton, K., & Ashktorab, Z. (2016, February). Beyond the Belmont principles: Ethical challenges, practices, and beliefs in the online data research community. In Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 941-953). ACM. [pdf]
• Chancellor, S., Birnbaum, M. L., Caine, E. D., Silenzio, V., & De Choudhury, M. (2019, January). A taxonomy of ethical tensions in inferring mental health states from social media. In Proceedings of the Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (pp. 79-88). ACM. [pdf]

* Topics to be covered and the corresponding readings are subject to change. Please always check the online schedule and the list of class readings.

Acknowledgments: Class materials adapted from the offering by Amy Bruckman.