CSCE 390: Professional Issues in Computer Science and Engineering
(pdf, 2021-08-15; updated 2021-08-26 with minor changes)
These notes will be updated during the course of the semester.
Computer Ethics? A Review of Definitions, used on 2020-08-27 and 2020-09-01.
Philosophical Belief Systems, Part I:
Idealism and Realism
Presentation by Ms. Vicky Hamby of the UofSC Career Center, used
on 2021-09-02 and 2021-09-07.
of Ms. Hamby's presentation of 2021-09-02.
Presentation by Ms. Taryn Asbury of the UofSC Career Center, used
on 2020-09-03 and 2020-09-08.
by Ms. Christine Mosich of the CEC Satellite Office of the USC Career Center.
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.
by Dr. Duncan Buell of UofSC, used on 2019-09-26.
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 Robert Barger
video for the Dr. Biplav Srivastava's lecture on
Trust and Accountability of AI Systems of 2020-11-05.
Overview of Research at CEC by Dr. Paul Ziehl (November 2021).
Four Cases by Robert Barger
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.
See the syllabus for formatting requirements.
See the lecture log and the departmental dropbox for due dates and special
Homework assignments are sometimes modified with respect to the
ones in the pdf version of the syllabus.
Read [M85]. (See the syllabus for reference; the paper is linked in the useful links section.)
Answer the following four questions.
Your essay, in total, must be no longer than two pages.
Please type the questions as well as your answers. All questions must be answered.
- List the three events in the history of computing that you consider most important.
- Provide an example of an action that is legal but unethical and
of an action that is illegal but ethical. Justify your answer.
- According to James Moor, what are the two phases of the "Computer Revolution"?
- Provide an example of a new (or substantially different) ethical dilemma
that was raised by computers or computing. Justify your answer.
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 (possibly, geared towards that position)
- A half-page essay on what you need to learn or do to be competitive for the position
- Attend the Virtual STEM Job Fair on September 14 or the in-person STEM
Job Fair on September 16, after registering via Handshake as described by
Ms. Vicky Hamby in her presentations of September 2 (Section 2) or September
7 (Section 1), 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 25;
this should show that you could not reasonably attend the STEM Majors
- 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.
Argue for or or against the following statement: "The computer is just another tool, and computer ethics is
just a branch of applied ethics." Justify your answer. Refer to James Moor's work on this subject
([M85], [M99], [M04]). Keep your answer to at most one page.
Choose one of the four philosophical belief systems that we discussed in class (idealism,
realism, pragmatism, and existentialism). Summarize the key features of its metaphysics and ethics in
your own words.
Use at least [B93] as a reference.
Keep your answer to at most one page.
Analyze the False Images in Broadcast Case using the 8-step Ethical Decision Making Process by Robert Barger that we described in class on September 30 and October 5. The case is summarized in slides 14-17 of the set used in those class. The slides are available on the main course website at "The Ethical Decision-Making Process." The _New York Times_ article that is the source of the case is available on the main course website under "Some Useful Links." Write 1-2 pages.
- (HW6) 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 by Robert Barger (see
to the ethical dilemma, and (3) you apply the ACM Code to it.
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 Monday, November 15, 2021, for Section 1 and
Wednesday, November 17, 2021, for Section 2.
All students should be prepared to present on one of the following class days, starting with
November 16 for Section 1 and November 18 for Section 2.
The work of students who cannot present because
of lack of time will be graded using the PowerPoint document only.
Some Useful Links:
The links will be updated during the semester.
Jason Borenstein, Frances S. Grodzinsky, Ayanna Howard, Keith W. Miller,
Marty J. Wolff.
"AI Ethics: A Long History and a Recent Burst of Attention."
Computing Edge, 7, 10 (October 2021), pp.44-50.
Roddy Lindsay. "I Designed Algorithms at Facebook. Here's How to Regulate Them."
New York Times, October 6, 2021.
Bill Carter. "CBS is Divided Over the Use Of False Images in Broadasts."
New York Times, January 13, 2000.
- STEM Career Fair
Resources from Ms. Taryn Asbury of the CEC Career Center, 2020-09-22.
- Abstract for presentation by
Prof. Duncan Buell on Voting Machines of 2018-10-25, and
- Career-related links
- Career Center at CEC
Majors Career Fair Information
- Career Center at USC (main site)
Packet from the USC Career Canter
- ACM Career and
- 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.
James H. Moor.
"Just Consequentialism and Computing."
Ethics and Information Technology 1: 65-69, 1999.
- A Framework for Ethical Decision Making
(local copy, simpified layout)
from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
- "A Metaethical
Analysis of Computer Ethics",
typescript at https://www3.nd.edu/~rbarger/metaethics.html
local copy in pdf).
we teach robots ethics?", an episode of the BBC radio show "The Inquiry"
that aired on 2017-12-11 and 2017-12-12.
- "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.
- The Culture Clash on the Net case from Ch.6 [B]: local copy
- 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"
Kant. "Groundwork for the Metaphysic [sic] of Morals."
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
"Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development", in:
W.C. Crain, Theories of Development. Prentice-Hall, pp.118-136
(Chapter 7), 1985.
- 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
- Andrew A. Chien.
"Computing Is a Profession." Communications of the ACM,
60, 10 (Oct. 2017), p.5 (local copy).
- John White and Barbara Simmons.
"ACM's Position on the Licensing of Software Engineers."
Communications of the ACM, 45, 11 (Nov. 2002), p.91 (local copy)
Peter J. Jenning and Paul S. Rosenbloom.
"Computing: The Fourth Great Domain of Science."
Communications of the ACM, 52, 9 (September 2009), 27-29. (local copy).
The ACM Code of Ethics and
Professional Conduct (html)
Software Engineering Code of
Ethics and Professional Practice 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), accessed on 2018-10-04.
(Local copy in pdf
of journal version)
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 and Professional
Conduct in html
- An alternate
link to the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
ACM Code of Ethics: Printable Booklet in PDF with Commentary and Case Studies
the ACM Code, with links to Case Studies
ACM/IEEE-CS Software Engineering Code of
Ethics and Professional Practice
(Local copy in pdf
of journal version).
- 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.
- 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