Computer Science 360.001

Ethical and Social Implications of Computing

Fall 2018

TR 2:00 - 3:15 PM

EB 0140


Bill White

EB 3180


Office Hours

MW 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM,

TR 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM,

and by appointment!


Course Description

An introduction to the social, ethical, legal, and professional contexts in which software systems are developed and utilized.

Prerequisite: CS 234

Course Objectives

To understand the basic cultural, social, legal, and ethical issues inherent in the discipline of computing; to understand where the discipline has been, where it is, and where it is heading; and to understand the individual′s roles in this process, as well as appreciate the philosophical questions, technical problems, and aesthetic values that play an important part in the development of the discipline.

To develop the ability to ask serious questions about the social impact of computing and to evaluate proposed answers to those questions; to anticipate the impact of introducing a given product into a given environment, including effects on the quality of life and the impact upon individuals, groups, and institutions.

To be aware of the basic legal rights of software and hardware vendors and users, and to appreciate the ethical values that are the basis for those rights; to understand the responsibility that software developers bear, and the possible consequences of failure; to understand the limitations of individual developers and their tools; and to understand the need to make a long-term commitment to remaining current in one′s chosen specialties and in the discipline of computing as a whole.

Reading Assignments

Most class sessions have specified reading assignments (usually recent articles from technical publications) that are expected to be read before coming to class that day.

Printed versions of the articles will be supplied to students, but PDF files are also linked to the course web site.


Late Policy

Late assignments will not be accepted unless verifiable documentation of a legitimate reason for their lateness is provided to the instructor.

Legitimate reasons are limited to documented medical problems. Late (or early) exam arrangements must be made in writing with the instructor.


Attendance is expected and strongly encouraged, as is class participation.

The material covered during lectures and class discussions, as well as the reading assignments, shall form the basis for the exams.

In-Class Civility

Eating any food or drinking any beverage in any SIUE classroom is prohibited at any time before, during, and after class.

Violations will result in immediate ejection from the class.

Also forbidden during class:

Using cell phones, tablets, or laptops.

Prolonged chattering with classmates (except within the scope of the panel discussions).


Academic Misconduct

Discussion of assigned paper topics and course reading material is encouraged in this course, but showing your assigned papers to other students or copying material from other students (or from other sources) is considered academic misconduct by all students involved.

No direct quotes from any source (including assigned reading material) are allowed in your papers, which must be entirely in your own words.

You are encouraged to bring early drafts of papers to the instructor for a quick review prior to due dates.




Grading Scale

Four 125-Point Position Papers

Four 1000-word opinion papers will be assigned for this course, each asking the student to expand upon the topics covered in an associated article.

Each paper must be in the student′s own words, with no direct quotes from any source (including the associated article). Papers must be double-spaced in Word (typed, not scanned), with a 12-pt. font and one-inch margins. The header at the top of the first page must consist only of the student′s name, the course number, and the assignment number.







One 150-Point In-Class Panel Discussion

Six class meetings will be devoted to panel discussions, some associated with previously assigned position papers and others associated with other relevant topics for this course. Six or seven students will be assigned to each panel, and these students must meet well before the in-class discussion to determine what their individual focus areas will be.

On the day of the discussion, each panelist will be given five minutes to present an overview of his or her focus area, after which the remainder of the class period will be spent on questions from the remaining class members and the instructor, who will serve as the discussion moderator.

Panelists will be graded on the quality of their overviews, as well as their ability to deal effectively with the questions that arise. All non-panelists are expected to attend and participate in the discussion.









One 150-Point Midterm Exam & One 200-Point Final Exam

These exams will focus on the main topics covered in the course. All questions will be 25-point essay questions with responses expected to be thorough, coherent, and legible. In general, a response to an exam essay question is expected to be at least 100 words in length.





Total Points for Course







Computer Science 360.001 Tentative Syllabus




History of Computing

The Technological Fix as Social Cure-All


Social Networks

From Brexit to Trump: Social Media′s Role in Democracy


Internet Growth

America′s Internet Access: 2000-2015


Gender & Race Underrepresentation

Diversity Gaps in Computer Science


Panel Discussion 1

Are Technologies Innocent? - Parts 1-7


Obligations to Stakeholders

IEEE Recommended Practice for Software Requirements Specifications


Maintaining Tech Vitality

Educating Next-Gen Computer Scientists

Position Paper 1 Due


Professional Code of Ethics

Professional and Ethical Dilemmas in Software Engineering


Harassment & Discrimination

Technology′s Man Problem


Panel Discussion 2

(Position Paper 1)


Software Complexity & The Hazards of Reuse

Barriers to Refactoring


Risk Assessment

The Real Risks of Artificial Intelligence


Exploiting Security Weaknesses

Blockchains: How They Work

Position Paper 2 Due


Handling System Compromises

Bias on the Web


Panel Discussion 3

(Position Paper 2)


MIDTERM EXAM (150 pts)


Intellectual Property

Supreme Court on Design Patent Damages in Samsung v. Apple


Legal Ramifications for Users & Developers

Who Owns the Social Web?


Panel Discussion 4

The Self-Driving Car′s People Problem


Online Nuisances

Trolling Pathologies

Position Paper 3 Due


Privacy Protection & Civil Liberties

Smartphones, Biometrics, and a Brave New World


Ensuring Protection of Data & Access

Hacker-Proof Coding


Panel Discussion 5

(Position Paper 3)


Identity Theft & Attack Prevention

Exploring the Risks to Identity Security and Privacy in Cyberspace


Economics of Computing

Net Neutrality: A Brief Overview of the Policy


Effects on Employment

The Hidden Faces of Automation

Position Paper 4 Due


Thanksgiving Break


Thanksgiving Break


Trustworthiness of Technology

A Drone by Any Other Name


Resistance to Technology

The Wisdom of Older Technology (Non) Users


Panel Discussion 6

(Position Paper 4)


Discussion, Review, and Course Evaluation


Wednesday, 12/12


(12:00-1:40 PM)