Course: CS 4001 Computing, Society, & Professionalism
Term: Spring 2017
Location: College of Computing 101
Time: Tuesday and Thursday 1:35-2:55pm
Office Hours: Friday 11am-12noon
Teaching Assistant: Sarmistha Dutta

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.
  • Argumentation: How do you construct a well-reasoned argument? Whatever you go on to do in your professional career, your success will arguably depend more on your oral and written communication skills than on your technical skills. This class is one of your few and precious opportunities to work to improve those skills.

Assignments and Grading

Class Attendance - 10%
Class Participation - 10% (Contributions to the class Piazza discussions count towards class participation)
Homeworks - 20% (Term paper proposal and outline count as homework assignments)
[Homework 1 | Homework 2 | Homework 3 | Homework 4]
Term Paper - 25%
[Term Paper Proposal | Proposal Presentation | Outline | Full Paper | Final Paper Group Presentations: Schedule, Format]
Midterm - 15%
Final Exam - 20%

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

Class Attendance. Class attendance is required. Please remember to sign the attendance sheet each class. Please do not sign the attendance sheet if you are more than 15 minutes late to class. If you need to miss class for a legitimate reason, please send email to the instructor and TA, preferably before class.

You may miss up to two classes without it affecting your grade. However, please note that exams are strongly based on material that is covered in class, and being there is the best way to know what you need to know. If you do miss a class, please do get notes from a classmate.

Reference Format. Please use APA format for all references. APA format is described in Appendix 2 of the Writing Arguments textbook, and also 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 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.

Required Texts

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.

Class Schedule *

10-Jan Welcome and Overview
12-Jan Case Study: Therac-25 "Medical Devices: The Therac-25" by Nancy Leveson
Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm (New York Times, January 23, 2010)
17-Jan Reading Arguments Writing Arguments 1 & 2
19-Jan Utilitarianism Quinn 2.1-2.3, 2.7-2.8
24-Jan Homework 1 Discussion Homework 1 Due
26-Jan Deontology & Social Contract Theory Quinn 2.6, 2.9
31-Jan Stakeholder Analysis & Virtue Ethics In a Different Voice by Carol Gilligan, pp. 25-39
Virtue Ethics, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Quinn 2.10-2.11
2-Feb Professional Ethics Quinn Chapter 9
Using the New ACM Code of Ethics in Decision Making by Anderson et al.
Homework 2 Due
7-Feb Freedom of Speech & Networked Communications Quinn 3.2, 3.5-3.8; skim the rest of the chapter
9-Feb Government and Technology Use (No class) The impact of polices on government social media usage by Bertot et al.
Using ICTs to create a culture of transparency by Bertot et al.
14-Feb Core, Logical Structure of an Argument Writing Arguments Chapters 3, 4
16-Feb Evidence Writing Arguments Chapter 5
Academic Urban Legends by Ole Bjorn Rekdal
21-Feb Privacy Quinn Chapter 5
"Anonymized" data really isn't by Nate Anderson in ars technica
23-Feb Privacy and the Government Quinn Chapter 6
EU-US Airline Passenger Data Disclosure (skim)
Homework 3 Due
28-Feb No class Term Paper Proposals Due
2-Mar Discussion of Term Paper Proposals Term Paper Proposal (In-Class) Presentations (Slide due on TSquare on the day before)
Midterm Review
7-Mar Midterm (In-Class)
9-Mar Intellectual Property Quinn Chapter 4.1-4.5
14-Mar Software as IP Quinn Chapter 4.6-4.10
16-Mar Rhetorical Tools and Claims Writing Arguments 6, 7
21-Mar Spring Break Term Paper Outline Due
23-Mar Spring Break
28-Mar Visual Argument Visual & Statistical Thinking by Tufte
30-Mar Computer and Network Security Quinn Chapter 7
4-Apr Computer Reliability & Software Warranties Quinn Chapter 8.1-8.4, 8.7-8.8
6-Apr The Patriot Act Quinn Chapter 6.6
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
The USA Patriot Act
National Security Letters
Watch before coming to class: United States of Secrets, Part One and Part Two
Homework 4 Due
11-Apr Term Paper Group Presentations (Part I) All Presentation Slides Due on 10-Apr
13-Apr Term Paper Group Presentations (Part II) Full Term Paper Due
18-Apr Work and Wealth Quinn Chapter 10
The Planet Money T-Shirt Project
Whither the digital divide? by Mark Warschauer
20-Apr Final Exam Review
25-Apr Final Exam (Take-Home)

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

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