Course: CS 4001 Computing, Society, & Professionalism
Term: Spring 2019
Location: Molecular Science and Engineering (MSE) Building, Room #1224
Time: Tuesday and Thursday 3:00-4:15pm
Office Hours: By appointment
Teaching Assistant: Sindhu Kiranmai Ernala

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 and Participation - 15%
[Surprise] In-Class Quizzes (5 in all) - 5%
[Individual] Homeworks (4 in all) - 20%
[Homework 1 | Homework 2 | Homework 3 | Homework 4]
[Group] Term Paper - 25%
[Term Paper Proposal | Proposal Presentation [Schedule] | Outline | Full Paper | Final Paper Group Presentations [Schedule]]
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 *

8-Jan Welcome and Overview
10-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)
15-Jan Reading Arguments Writing Arguments 1 & 2
17-Jan Guest Lecture by Stevie Chancellor Homework 1 Class Exercises and Discussion
22-Jan Utilitarianism Quinn 2.1-2.3, 2.7-2.8
Homework 1 Due
24-Jan Deontology & Social Contract Theory Quinn 2.6, 2.9
29-Jan Campus Closure / Snow Day
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
5-Feb Professional Ethics Quinn Chapter 9
Using the New ACM Code of Ethics in Decision Making by Anderson et al.
7-Feb Freedom of Speech & Networked Communications; Censorship; Cyber Harassment Quinn 3.2, 3.5-3.8; skim the rest of the chapter
Social Media Speech by Lata Nott
Popular Science Commentary/Article: Hate Speech — A Threat to Freedom of Speech
Popular Science Commentary/Article: Reddit bans 'Fat People Hate' and other subreddits under new harassment rules
12-Feb Core, Logical Structure of an Argument; Evidence Writing Arguments Chapter 3, 4, 5
Academic Urban Legends by Ole Bjorn Rekdal
A postmodern Pandora’s box: Anti-vaccination misinformation on the Internet by Anna Kata
14-Feb Privacy Quinn Chapter 5
"Anonymized" data really isn't by Nate Anderson
Popular Science Commentary/Article: Zuckerberg: I know that people don't want privacy
Popular Science Commentary/Article: Don't Buy Anyone an Echo
Popular Science Commentary/Article: How the Internet of Things will affect security & privacy
19-Feb Privacy and the Government; Case Studies: Minority Report (2001 film), The Circle (2017 film) Quinn Chapter 6 (except 6.6)
EU-US Airline Passenger Data Disclosure (skim)
Popular Science Commentary/Article: In Your Face: China’s all-seeing state (watch the video)
Homework 2 Due
21-Feb Midterm Review
26-Feb Discussion of Term Paper Proposals I Term Paper Proposal (In-Class) Presentations
28-Feb Discussion of Term Paper Proposals II Term Paper Proposal (In-Class) Presentations
Term Paper Proposals Due
5-Mar Privacy and the Government/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
7-Mar Midterm (In-Class)
12-Mar Trust and Algorithmic Transparency I always assumed that I wasn't really that close to [her]: Reasoning about Invisible Algorithms in News Feeds by Eslami et al.
Popular Science Commentary/Piece: A new study finds a potential risk with self-driving cars: failure to detect dark-skinned pedestrians
Popular Science Commentary/Piece: When It Comes to Gorillas, Google Photos Remains Blind
Popular Science Commentary/Piece: Facebook Increasingly Reliant on A.I. To Predict Suicide Risk
14-Mar Algorithmic Bias The Relevance of Algorithms by Tarleton Gillespie
Unequal Representation and Gender Stereotypes in Image Search Results for Occupations by Kay et al.
Racial Discrimination in the Sharing Economy: Evidence from a Field Experiment by Edelman et al.
Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images by Wang and Kosinski
Popular Science Commentary/Article: Amazon Doesn’t Consider the Race of Its Customers. Should It?
Popular Science Commentary/Article: Troubling Study Says Artificial Intelligence Can Predict Who Will Be Criminals Based on Facial Features
19-Mar Spring Break
21-Mar Spring Break
26-Mar Algorithmic Manipulation and Control Social bots distort the 2016 US Presidential election online discussion by Bessi and Ferrara
Popular Science/Commentary Article: The Cambridge Analytica Files
Homework 3 Due
28-Mar AI, Robots, and Automation; Case Studies: 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968 film), Ex Machina (2015 film) Why Machine Ethics? by Allen et al.
Rise of concerns about AI: reflections and directions by Dietterich and Horvitz
How Technology is Destroying Jobs by Dana Rotman
Term Paper Outline Due
2-Apr Suicide AI - Stakeholder Analysis (Guest Lecture)
4-Apr Intellectual Property; Software as IP; Piracy; Fair Use (Guest Lecture) Quinn Chapter 4.1-4.10
9-Apr Computer and Network Security, Computer Reliability Quinn Chapter 7, 8.1-8.4, 8.7-8.8
11-Apr Research Ethics Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks by Kramer et al.
Protecting human research participants in the age of big data by Fiske and Hauser
Beyond the Belmont Principles: Ethical Challenges, Practices, and Beliefs in the Online Data Research Community by Vitak et al.
16-Apr Term Paper Group Presentations (Part I) Slides due the day before
Homework 4 Due
18-Apr Term Paper Group Presentations (Part II) Slides due the day before
23-Apr Final Exam Review In-Class Makeup Quiz
Full Term Paper Due
29-Apr Final Exam (Take home) Exam released on Canvas by 12am and answers to be submitted by 11:59pm

* 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.