CSCE 390: Professional Issues in Computer Science and Engineering
Meeting time and venue: Th 1800-1850 in 300 Main B213.
Instructor: Marco Valtorta
Office: Swearingen 3A55, 777-4641
MF 1030-noon, or by previous appointment.
Teaching Assistant:Kenneth Nesbitt
W 1600-1700, Sumwalt 101/102 offices.
Robert N. Barger.
Computer Ethics: A Case-based Approach.
Cambridge University Press, 2008 (required text, referred to as [B]).
Supplementary materials from the publisher
are available online.
The departmental syllabus for CSCE 390 is
here. (Note that the syllabus is incorrect: there are currently no
course prerequisites for CSCE 390.)
CSCE 390 is an approved foundational course for the
Carolina Core VSR (Values and Ethics) learning outcome.
Specific objectives of this course are:
- How computing, philosophical systems, and ethics relate to each other
- How to solve ethical dilemmas in the field of computing
- Apply professional codes of conduct to realistic situations
- Demonstrate familiarity with current social and ethical issues related to
- Investigate different professional options
- Participate in professional activities
These notes will be updated during the course of the semester.
Computer Ethics? A Review of Definitions. Notes used on
Philosophical Belief Systems, Part I:
Idealism and Realism
by Ms. Emma Waugh of the CEC Satellite Office of the USC
Career Center, used on 2016-09-08.
by Ms. Helen Powers of the CEC Satellite Office of the USC
Career Center, used on 2015-09-10.
Philosophical Belief Systems, Part II:
Pragmatism and Existentialism
Three Simple Ethical Cases:
Absolutist and Relativist Positions
The Ethical Decision-Making Process
Legal and Ethical Issues in
Computer Security, presentation by Dr. Csilla Farkas
, used on 2015-11-17
Psychology and Computer Ethics
The Computing Field as a Profession
Computer-Related Codes of Ethics
Four Cases by Rogert Barger
Quizzes (In-Class Exercises)
Here is a writing rubric written by
Dr. Heidi Cooley in the Media Arts program. (Thanks to Prof. Buell for passing
it on.) I am not bound by this rubric, but it may be useful for you to
consider when writing your essays.
Points per assignment.
See the lecture log for possible additional assignments.
Your homework must be typed. preferrably double-spaced, in 12-point font.
Please include references as appropriate.
I do not require a specific citation style, but please be consistent.
- (HW1) Do the exercises at the end of chapters 1 and 2 of [B].
Due date: September 1, 2016.
The essay, in total, must be no longer than two pages. Please type the
questions as well as your answers.
- Please turn in hard copy, but save the source file,
because you may be asked to
submit an electronic version later.
- For question 1 on p.15, provide only one occurrence and
why you think it should have been included.
- For question 2 on p.15,
provide only one example of each of the two kinds and
explain why they meet the conditions of the question.
- For question 3 on p.15, provide only one kind of problem and explain why the
computer has raised a unique dilemma.
- (HW2) Do the exercises at the end of chapter 3 and 5 of [B].
Due date: Thursday, September 29, 2016.
A two-page paper (roughly half a page per question) is expected.
(HW3) due Thursday, October 6, 2016
Choose a company where you would like to apply for a position. Write:
If you cannot attend the career fair because of a class conflict, you must:
- A one-page overview of the company
- A one-page overview of the position that you would apply for
- A one-page resume geared towards that position
- A half-page essay on what you need to learn or do to be competitive for the position
- Attend the SET Career Fair on Tuesday, September 27, and
write a half-page essay describing your experience
- Complete your Handshake profike at the USC Career Center. Write a
statement that you did this on the first page of your homework
The whole submission consists of four pages.
- Do all parts of the assignment except for part (5)
- Attach a copy of your weekly class schedule for the week of September 26;
this should show that you could not reasonably attend the SET Career Fair
- Do one of the following:
- Write a half-page essay describing your experience at another career fair
- Attend an activity sponsored by the career center, such as a resume-writing
workshop, and write a half-page essay about it
- Attend an activity sponsored by a professional society in computing and
write a half-page essay about it.
- (HW4) Do the exercise at the end of chapter 6 of [B].
Due date: Thursday, October 20, 2016.
I expect at least one page.
- (HW5) Read Ch.7 [B]. Do the exercise at the end of chapter 7 of [B].
Due date: Thursday, November 3, 2016.
I expect at least one page.
- (HW6) Do exercises 1 and 4 at the end of chapter 9 of [B]. Due date:
Thursday, November 10, 2016.
- (HW7) Choose a topic of professional interest that includes a
non-trivial ethical issue from
ACM TechNews archives.
Prepare a 6-slide PowerPoint presentation (in pptx format; a few more slides
are acceptable) in which
(1) you summarize the topic (appropriate references should be on the
title slide---see below),
(2) you apply the 8-step ethical decision-making process
to the problem, (3) you apply the ACM Code or the ACM/IEEE-CS Code.
You also need a title slide with your name, the title of your presentation,
and reference(s), including at least the ACM TechWeek entry that you used.
At least one example is provided in the "Student Presentations" section of
The PowerPoint presentation is due by 11:55pm on November 15, 2016.
It must be submitted using the departmental dropbox.
All students should be prepared to present on November 17, 2016.
Some students will be asked to present in class on November 17; others on
December 1, the last day of class.
The USC Blackboard
has a site for this course.
Some useful links:
- Career-related links
- Career Center at CEC
Career Fair Information, including a list of companies.
- Career Center at USC (main site)
- Resume Tip Sheet from
USC Career Canter
- ACM Career and
- ACM CareerNews
- ACM Computing Degrees and
- Women in Computing Group at
James H. Moor. "What is Computer Ethics?"
Metaphilosophy, 16, 4 (October 1985), 266-275
James, H. Moor. "Reason, Relativity, and Responsibility in
Terrell Ward Bynum and Simon Rogerson (eds.).
Computer Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
ISBN 1-85554-844-5. Blackwell Publishing, 2004
In addition to Moor's article, the paper also contains historical and
introductory material on the topic of Computer Ethics.
- "Artificial Intelligence
and Life in 2030". Report of the 2015 study panel. One hundred year study
on Artificial Intelligence, Stanford University, September 2016,
released on September 1, 2016
students learn coding?" Results of a Gallup poll commissioned by
Google, USA Today article, 2014-08-20.
James H. Moor.
"Just Consequentialism and Computing."
Ethics and Information Technology 1: 65-69, 1999.
- Society of Women
Engineers at USC Website
"Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals: A Very Brief
Selective Summary of Sections I and II"
W. Russ Payne's summary: "Aristotle on Virtue"
(linked on 2013-09-12).
A paper by Shannon Bowen on an using Kant's Ethics to
Manage Ethical Issues.
An article by Shannon Bowen on the role of ethical paradigms in
- Jeremy Epstein.
"Internet Voting: Will We Cast Our Next Votes Online?"
Computing Reviews, 2016-09-27 (local copy, pdf).
- "The Pentagon's 'Terminator Conundrum':
Robots that Could Kill on Their Own," an article by Matthew Rosenberg
and John Markoff, New York Times, October 25, 2016.
- "Without Test Tubes, 3 Win Nobel in
Chemistry," an article by Kenneth Chang, New York Times, October 10, 2013
"Internet Access is Not a Human Right,"
an article by Vinton G. Cerf, New York Times, January 4, 2012
"What is Artificial Intelligence?"
An article by Richard Powers, New York Times, February 5, 2011, about the IBM
Jeopardy-playing Watson program (local copy)
The PBS NOVA Show "Smartest Machine on Earth" describes the IBM
Jeopardy-playing program Watson
The IBM Watson web site
(also can be reached this way).
Some comments by Carnegie Mellon professor Eric Nyberg and graduate students
Nico Schlaefer and Hideki Shima, who worked
on the IBM Watson project.
Building Watson: An Overview of the DeepQA Project
David Ferrucci, Eric Brown, Jennifer Chu-Carroll, James Fan, David Gondek, Aditya A. Kalyanpur, Adam Lally, J. William Murdock, Eric Nyberg, John Prager, Nico Schlaefer, Chris Welty. _AI Magazine, vol.31, no.3 (Fall 2010).
(full text available only to AAAI members).
J. Denning. "The Computing Field: Structure." April 2008 (rev. 9/14/08).
Typescript. Naval Postgraduate School.
Chi, R. Glaser, and E. Rees. "Expertise in Problem Solving." In:
R.J. Sternberg (Ed.), Advances in the Psychology of Human Intelligence
(vol. 1). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1982
The ACM Code of Ethics and
Professional Conduct (html)
The Software Engineering Code of
Ethics and Professional Practice (Version 5.2) as recommended by the
ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Task Force on Software Engineering Ethics and Professional
Practices and jointly approved by the ACM and the IEEE-CS as the standard for
teaching and practicing software engineering (html)
Gotterbarn, D. and Miller, K. W. 2004. "Computer ethics in the undergraduate
curriculum: case studies and the joint software engineer's code." J. Comput.
Small Coll. 20, 2 (Dec. 2004), 156-167 (local copy, pdf).
- Links concerning professional codes of ethics
- The ACM Code of Ethics
and Professional Conduct
- The ACM Code of
Ethics: Flyer with Abridged Version
- The Software Engineering Code of
Ethics and Professional Practice
- The Ten Commandments of
Computer Ethics (from the site of Computer Professional for Social
- Gotterbarn, D. and
Miller, K. W. 2004. Computer ethics in the undergraduate curriculum: case
studies and the joint software engineer's code. J. Comput. Small Coll. 20, 2
(Dec. 2004), 156-167.
- Local copy of the above.
- Peter Aiken, Robert M. Stanley, Juanita
Billings, and Luke Anderson.
"Using Codes of Conduct to Resolve Legal Disputes."
Computer, 43, 4 (April 2010), pp.29-34 (local copy, pdf).
- "Codes of
Ethics in English" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 10/13/2009 National
Academy of Engineering Accessed: Monday, April 12, 2010
(Note that the
ACM/IEEE-CS Software Engineering and Professional Practice was not on this page
- Links related to current events
New York Times article of 2011-02-16 about how Egypt was disconnected
from the internet on January 28, 2011:
original article (notice comments link)
Bloomberg News article on
Internet "Kill Switch" Authority:
- Links related to career planning
Careers (TM) article by Randall Hanssen
Career Planning Guide for