Ethics in Computing - Computer and Information Sciences

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Transcript Ethics in Computing - Computer and Information Sciences

Ethics in Computing
 Use of computers has spread to all aspects
of society
 The need for computer users to act in a
sociably responsible way is becoming more
 We will examine ethical and moral issues in
using computers
Ethics in Computing
Adapted for academic use from “Ethics in Computing” by Kevin Bowyer, IEEE 1996
Ethics in Computing
Adapted for academic use from “Ethics in Computing” by Kevin Bowyer, IEEE 1996
Right and Wrong
 Human beings are able to differentiate
between right and wrong (Throughout the
world and among different regions and
 We need to apply this capability in an
effective way in computing (spreading
viruses, promoting use of copied
commercial software, intrusion into
accounts of others etc. are morally wrong
A Case to Consider
 We borrow some cases from the published
literature to demonstrate the importance of
ethical considerations in one aspect of
computing, software development
 Suppose that a hospital hires your services
as a programmer. You are asked to develop
software to control the positioning of an Xray machine that can slide up and down
vertically over the patient table
A Case to Consider
 The X-ray machine has minimum position
of zero where it touches the table and
maximum position of 5 where it is 5 ft
above the table
 The operator enters the desired position of
machine. The software compares it to
current position and issues commands to
move the machine
 Develop the algorithm for this software
Another Interesting Case
 Assume that SUNY Fredonia wants to
install an automated and intelligent parking
space finder system
 In the morning, people will use the main
entrance on college parkway and will stop
at a machine to enter their preferred parking
 The software on the machine will interact with the
users and help them find space in a parking lot in
decreasing order of priority
Parking Finder Dream Machine
 All spaces on campus will be installed with
“car sensors” that will connect to the
parking finder dream machine
 You are asked to evaluate the feasibility of
this system and comment on the effects of
this system on the overall campus and the
Fredonia community
ACM Code of Ethics
 ACM has issued its own code of ethics
 This code contains
– Eight moral imperatives
– Eight professional responsibilities
– Six leadership imperatives
– Two compliance elements
 Let us look at salient features of this code
ACM Code of Ethics
 The general moral imperatives include
principles of honesty, trustworthiness,
respect for privacy as well as contribution to
 Professional responsibilities call for
acquiring and maintaining professional
competence and honoring all agreements
and contracts
ACM Code of Ethics
 Leadership imperatives require supporting
authorized use of computing resources and
managing personnel and resources to design
and build useful information systems
 Compliance elements include the upholding
and promotion of the principles of the code
and avoiding violations
Software for a price or free?
 We look at three opinions on this topic:
– Software should be free
– Software prices should be reduced drastically
– Software should be treated just like any other
commercial product
 Software is developed by teams and
individuals who spent considerable time and
effort on it
Software Types
 Operating systems (e.g. Windows, Unix,
Linux, MacOS, OS/2 etc.)
 General application software (e.g. MSWord, Adobe Photoshop, PDF Converter
 Customized application software (e.g.
NiMo corporate billing system, United
Airline flight management system, ATC
computer systems)
 Following are my recommendations for the
general application software and operating
 Operating systems are usually shipped with
new computers. Later, the users should be
given free upgrades
 General application software should sell for
under $10 as the massive production of
CD’s will bring in the revenue
Software Copyright Policies
 The copyright rules are printed in “micro” prints.
How can we abide by the rules that we cannot read
 If we have two computers at home, it is forbidden
to install the software on both. Is it practical?
(consider the laptop and desktop pair!!)
 “By opening this packet, you are agreeing to abide
by-------” is a funny statement
 I think the copyright rules need revision
Free Software
 Let us also encourage the free software
 Free software does not mean pirated
 Software designers make available the
products as freeware.
 These products are difficult to use but more
powerful than the commercial products
Free Software
 Freeware is different from Shareware.
Shareware works on the principle of “try
before you buy”
 Free Software Foundation started in 1984
with the name GNU (GNU is NOT UNIX)
 The Free Software Foundation (FSF), a tax-exempt charity
for free software development, raises funds by selling
GNU CD-ROMs, T-shirts, manuals, and deluxe
distributions, (all of which users are free to copy and
change), as well as from donations.
Free Software
 FSF has some radical views to which one
may or may not agree
 For example, they stress that software
should not have owners. They also claim
that the copyright laws hurt the freedom of
the society and that the owners prevent the
spread of information.
 Review the material online at