CSCE 390: Professional Issues in Computer Science and Engineering (Fall 2022)

Syllabus (pdf, 2022-08-18; updated 2022-08-22; updated 2022-09-13 with correct email address for the TA.)

These notes will be updated during the course of the semester.
What Is 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 Mr. Nick Paschvoss and Ms. Brie Panaherrera of the UofSC Career Center, used on 2022-09-13 and 2022-09-15.
Schema for an "elevator pitch" from Mr. Paschvoss.
Presentation by Ms. Vicky Hamby of the UofSC Career Center, used on 2021-09-02 and 2021-09-07.
Video recording 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.
Presentation by Ms. Christine Mosich of the CEC Satellite Office of the USC Career Center.
Presentation by Ms. Emma Waugh of the CEC Satellite Office of the USC Career Center, used on 2016-09-08.
Presentation by Ms. Helen Powers of the CEC Satellite Office of the USC Career Center, used on 2015-09-10.
Presentation 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
Slides and 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 requirements.
Homework assignments are sometimes modified with respect to the ones in the pdf version of the syllabus.

  1. (HW1)
    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.
  2. (HW2)
    Choose a company where you would like to apply for a position. Write:
    1. A one-page overview of the company
    2. A one-page overview of the position that you would apply for
    3. A one-page resume (possibly, geared towards that position)
    4. A half-page essay on what you need to learn or do to be competitive for the position
    5. Attend the STEM Job and Internship Fair on September 28, 29, or 30, after registering via Handshake and write a half-page essay describing your experience
    6. Complete your Handshake profike at the USC Career Center. Write a statement that you did this on the first page of your homework submission document.
      The whole submission consists of four pages.
    If you cannot attend the career fair because of a class conflict, you must:
    1. Do all parts of the assignment except for part (5)
    2. 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 Career Fair
    3. Do one of the following:
      1. Write a half-page essay describing your experience at another career fair
      2. Attend an activity sponsored by the career center, such as a resume-writing workshop, and write a half-page essay about it
      3. Attend an activity sponsored by a professional society in computing and write a half-page essay about it.
  3. (HW3)
    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.
  4. (HW4)
    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.
  5. (HW5)
    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.
  6. (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 HW5) 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 this website. The PowerPoint presentation is due by 11:55pm on Monday, November 14, 2022, for Section 1 and Wednesday, November 9, 2022, for Section 2. All students should be prepared to present on one of the following class days, starting with November 15 for Section 1 and November 10 for Section 2. The work of students who cannot present because of lack of time will be graded using the PowerPoint document only.

Lecture Log

Student Presentations

Some Useful Links:
The links will be updated during the semester.

  1. 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.
  2. Roddy Lindsay. "I Designed Algorithms at Facebook. Here's How to Regulate Them." New York Times, October 6, 2021. (Local copy).
  3. Bill Carter. "CBS is Divided Over the Use Of False Images in Broadasts." New York Times, January 13, 2000. (Local copy).
  4. STEM Career Fair Resources from Ms. Taryn Asbury of the CEC Career Center, 2020-09-22.
  5. Abstract for presentation by Prof. Duncan Buell on Voting Machines of 2018-10-25, and related report.
  6. Career-related links
    1. Career Center at CEC
    2. STEM Majors Career Fair Information
    3. Career Center at USC (main site)
    4. Resume-Writing Packet from the USC Career Canter
    5. ACM Career and Job Center
    6. ACM Computing Degrees and Careers Guide
  7. Women in Computing Group at USC
  8. James H. Moor. "What is Computer Ethics?" Metaphilosophy, 16, 4 (October 1985), 266-275 (local copy).
  9. James, H. Moor. "Reason, Relativity, and Responsibility in Computer Ethics." In: Terrell Ward Bynum and Simon Rogerson (eds.). Computer Ethics and Professional Responsibility. ISBN 1-85554-844-5. Blackwell Publishing, 2004 (local copy). In addition to Moor's article, the paper also contains historical and introductory material on the topic of Computer Ethics.
  10. James H. Moor. "Just Consequentialism and Computing." Ethics and Information Technology 1: 65-69, 1999. (local copy).
  11. A Framework for Ethical Decision Making (local copy, simpified layout) from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
  12. "A Metaethical Analysis of Computer Ethics", typescript at ( local copy in pdf).
  13. "Can we teach robots ethics?", an episode of the BBC radio show "The Inquiry" that aired on 2017-12-11 and 2017-12-12.
  14. "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 (local copy).
  15. "Should students learn coding?" Results of a Gallup poll commissioned by Google, USA Today article, 2014-08-20.
  16. The Culture Clash on the Net case from Ch.6 [B]: local copy
  17. Society of Women Engineers at USC Website
  18. Geoffrey Sayre-McCord. "Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals: A Very Brief Selective Summary of Sections I and II" (local copy).
  19. Immanuel Kant. "Groundwork for the Metaphysic [sic] of Morals." (local copy).
  20. A paper by Shannon Bowen on an using Kant's Ethics to Manage Ethical Issues.
  21. An article by Shannon Bowen on the role of ethical paradigms in decision making.
  22. "Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development", in: W.C. Crain, Theories of Development. Prentice-Hall, pp.118-136 (Chapter 7), 1985.
  23. Jeremy Epstein. "Internet Voting: Will We Cast Our Next Votes Online?" Computing Reviews, 2016-09-27 (local copy, pdf).
  24. "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.
  25. "Without Test Tubes, 3 Win Nobel in Chemistry," an article by Kenneth Chang, New York Times, October 10, 2013 (local copy).
  26. "Internet Access is Not a Human Right," an article by Vinton G. Cerf, New York Times, January 4, 2012 (local copy).
  27. "What is Artificial Intelligence?" An article by Richard Powers, New York Times, February 5, 2011, about the IBM Jeopardy-playing Watson program (local copy)
  28. The PBS NOVA Show "Smartest Machine on Earth" describes the IBM Jeopardy-playing program Watson
  29. The IBM Watson web site (also can be reached this way).
  30. Some comments by Carnegie Mellon professor Eric Nyberg and graduate students Nico Schlaefer and Hideki Shima, who worked on the IBM Watson project.
  31. 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).
  32. Peter J. Denning. "The Computing Field: Structure." April 2008 (rev. 9/14/08). Typescript. Naval Postgraduate School. (local copy)
  33. M.T. 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 (local copy).
  34. Andrew A. Chien. "Computing Is a Profession." Communications of the ACM, 60, 10 (Oct. 2017), p.5 (local copy).
  35. 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)
  36. 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).
  37. The ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (html)
  38. The 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)
  39. 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).
  40. Links concerning professional codes of ethics
    1. The ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
    2. The ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct in html
    3. An alternate link to the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
    4. ACM Code of Ethics: Printable Booklet in PDF with Commentary and Case Studies
    5. Using the ACM Code, with links to Case Studies
    6. The ACM/IEEE-CS Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice (Local copy in pdf of journal version).
    7. The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics (from the site of Computer Professional for Social Responsibility)
    8. 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,)
    9. 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).
    10. "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 when accessed.)
  41. Links related to current events
    1. New York Times article of 2011-02-16 about how Egypt was disconnected from the internet on January 28, 2011: local copy, original article (notice comments link)
    2. Bloomberg News article on Internet "Kill Switch" Authority: local copy , original article .
  42. Links related to career planning
    1. Quintessential Careers (TM) article by Randall Hanssen
    2. Career Planning Guide for IEEE Members