Credits: 1 unit (4 credit hours)
Contact Hours: 3 lecture
Instructor: Professor Jeffrey O. Pfaffmann
Next Taught: Spring 2015
Text Books: This machine kills secrets; by Andy Greenberg; Plume; Reprint edition (paperback ISBN-13: 978-0142180495)
Gift of Fire, 4th Edition by Sara Baase (ISBN-13: 978-0132492676)
How Music Works by David Byrne (ISBN-13: 978-1938073533)
Information Doesn’t want to be free. Cory Doctorow (ISBN-13: 978-1940450285)
War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict by Corey Mead (ISBN-13: 978-0544031562)
Computing: A Concise History (MIT Press Essential Knowledge) by Paul Ceruzzi (ISBN-13: 978-0262517676)
Recoding Gender: Women’s Changing Participation in Computing (History of Computing)
by Janet Abbate (ISBN-13: 978-0262018067 )
Selected articles and media.
Description: This course examines the computer’s cultural context: the managerial, political, legal, ethical, psychological, and philosophical implications of computing. (This course was previously VaST200.)
Prerequisites: None

Specific Course Goals:

After successfully completing this course, the student will be able to:

  • Students will be able to communicate effectively through writing.
  • Students will be able to discuss the professional, legal, and societal issues revolving around computers in terms of the ethical impact they present.
  • Present materials on group projects.
  • An ability to communicate effectively using oral presentations.

Student Outcomes:

ABET/CAC Outcome 3 Communicate effectively in a variety of professional contexts.
ABET/CAC Outcome 4 Recognize professional responsibilities and make informed judgments in computing practice based on legal and ethical principles.

Topics covered:

  • Overview
    • Approaches to writing.
    • The Basics of Ethical Reasoning
  • consequentialism and non-consequentialism
  • dominant ethical theory
  • the hacker ethic
    • The relationships between: Computers, Networks, and Information.
    • Importance of Computing Technology in the Context of Society.
  • Historical Perspective
    • Pre-history of computers.
    • Reasons for computer development.
    • Computer history and visionaries.
    • ARPANET: Creation of the Internet.
  • The Internet and the World
    • IP Address Space and Partitioning the Internet
    • Who Owns the Internet & Net Neutrality
    • Patriot Act
  • First Principles and the Computational World
    • Privacy
    • Freedom of Speech
    • Intellectual Property
  • Copyright and Copyleft
  • Computing Ethics and Responsibilities
    • Professional Ethics
    • Work
    • Evaluating and Controlling, and Failures of Computing Technology
    • Crime
  • Future Directions in Computation
    • Moores Law and Changing Speed of Change.
    • Autonomous Robotics and Automation.
    • Changes in Medical Technology.