BIS2061 Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues of Computing

School of Computing Science, Middlesex University


 
 
  BIS2061 Presentation and Essay topics 



PRESENTATION TOPICS

Presentations should be on some aspect of the weekly lecture topics (see below). There are no specific titles for presentations - it is for you to decide what angle you want to take, and what issues you want to address. Bear in mind how much time you have to present (around 20 mins. per group) - you may choose to present one idea in depth, or give a broader presentation covering wider aspects. There are different ways of presenting your case, such as, the Kallman and Grillo framework; a comparison between the Internet and "off-line" situations (or other comparisons); a case study; news items and other examples; itemising issues and discussing ways of resolving problems, and other ways you may think of.

When preparing your presentations keep in mind the marking criteria (set out at the end of this page) does your presentation meet the requirements set out? Above all, is it interesting and will we learn something from it?

If you have any questions regarding your presentations, or the topic you have chosen, please talk to your seminar tutor.

TOPICS

Computer Ethics

Computer Hacking

Intellectual Property Rights

Computer Crime

Computers and the Freedom of Speech

Privacy

The Social Implications of Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems

Enabling and Disabling Effects of IT

Codes of Conduct

Computers in the Workplace


Table 1- Presentation evaluation criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Marks Available

Coverage of Topic

Relevance to topic title

Focus (theme/argument)

Structure (Introduction, main theme, conclusion)

Originality

And including where appropriate:

  • Law: relevant legislation
  • Ethical Theory: Western ethical theory used to justify arguments
  • Codes Of Conduct: Professional codes of conduct to justify arguments
  • Additional Principles: Personal moral beliefs to justify arguments in the debate [1]

25

Quality of Research

Diverse and relevant of references i.e. beyond those given in the lecture notes

Relevant examples where appropriate

Diverse sources of references i.e. Internet, journals, conference papers, books and Interviews [2]

25

Presentation Skills

Quality of the slides (concise and clear)

Timing (Approx. 4mins per team member) [3]

Personal delivery (clearly spoken, visual contact with the audience, not reading from notes)

25

Group Engagement

  • Maintaining audience interest
  • Ability to answer questions and discussion points from other students and Lecturer
  • Analytical defence of viewpoint

25

Total Marks Available

/100

[1] Additional Principles could be obtained from philosophy, religion, political philosophy, principles inherited from parents and peer groups, etc.
[2] You will be penalised marks for only referring to the essential reading text for this module.

[3] Marks will be deducted for over-running the time allowance by more than 5 minutes.

 


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Individual essay on a given topic other than the one presented (25%)

Each student will be required to research an area of particular interest, other than the one researched for group presentation, and write the results of that research in an essay. A list of essay titles from which to choose is given below.

If any student finds an area that she/he would like to write about other than those in this book, she or he will need to consult their choice with their seminar tutors and acquire their prior agreement. The essay is to have between 1500 and 2000 words and must be word-processed. All quotes and findings must be referenced and the list of references has to be enclosed.

The essay should be structured to include an introduction, main body, conclusions, and references.

The lecturers will grade the essay using the evaluation criteria listed in Table 2 (shown at the end of this page).

 

ESSAY TOPICS

[N.B. a choice of two essays is given for most weeks]

Wk1: Computer Ethics and Theoretical Frameworks

How is the framework proposed by Kallman and Grillo (1996) helpful in making ethical decisions? Choosing your own example show how the framework can be applied. What decision would you make as a result of applying the framework?

Some people claim that "Computers have unique characteristics which give rise to difficult ethical issues". What are these unique characteristics, and what sort of issues might they raise? Illustrate your answer by using examples.

Wk2: Hacking

Are Hackers a "public nuisance" or a "public good"? Support your answer with cases drawn from the press, or textbooks.

Traditionally "hackers" were expert programmers - does this hold true today? If not, why not?

Wk3: Intellectual Property Rights

What type of things can be counted as Intellectual property? Using one of these "things" as an example, explain how the Internet poses a threat to Intellectual Property?

Wk4: Computer Crime

Spinello (2000) draws an analogy between physical "trespassing" and hacking. Using some of his arguments discuss whether such a comparison is helpful in making:
i) a legal, or ii) a moral, decision?

Computer technology has generated new ways of committing crimes. Using some examples of computer crimes show how technology attempts to combat these crimes. Does it succeed?

Wk5: Computers and Freedom of Speech

Does Internet technology promote or inhibit Free Speech? Illustrate your answer with case studies drawn from news articles or textbooks.

One of the most contentious issues in the Free Speech debate is the easy availability of pornographic material. Describe how the law, and organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation are addressing this problem.

Wk6: Privacy

One of the major concerns of Internet users is that of personal privacy. What particular technologies associated with the Internet threaten personal privacy, and how? What advice would you give to a user to protect their privacy?

"Information about people has always been collected (e.g. personnel offices, social security agencies, government census, etc.), computerisation brings nothing new". Discuss this claim. Do you agree?

Wk7: The Social Implications of Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems

What are the ethical questions raised by the following hypothetical news item?

"Expert systems can be used to reduce doctor’s workloads by diagnosing patient’s conditions. The system is programmed to prompt the patient with questions regarding symptoms, and checks their answers against a database of medical conditions."

With the rapid developments in intelligent agents, it might soon be possible for each of us to have a personal "web agent" performing many of our Internet activities (e.g. searching, making transactions, etc.). If we could customize our agents to behave "ethically", what sort of instructions would we need to give it, and why?

Wk8: Failed Computer Software and IS projects

You have commissioned a piece of software for your company that fails to work properly when it is installed. You refuse to pay for it. Using the Kallman and Grillo framework (i.e. appealing to Law, Codes of Conduct, Ethical Theory and Additional Principles), justify your decision to the software suppliers.

It has become commonplace for commercial "off-the-shelf" software to have bugs in it when it is sold. Are there differences between producing generalised software applications (such as browsers), and producing specific software for individual customers? Do the different situations indicate different responsibilities on the part of the suppliers?

Wk9: Enabling and Disabling Effects of IT

In what ways does computer technology "enable" the "less-able"? Give examples to support your answer.

What legislation currently exists to promote the inclusion of the "less-able" in society (in the UK)? How might this apply in an IT context?

Wk10: Evaluating Codes of Conduct

"Laws" and "Codes of Conduct" are both used to encourage, and discourage, certain types of behaviour. However, they both play different roles, and have different functions. Using the following list of questions as a guide, show the differences between them.

One of the defining characteristics of a professional organisation is that they have a code of conduct - for example, the legal profession, the medical profession. How do the codes of conduct of either of these professions compare to the British Computer Society Code of Conduct?

Wk11: Computers in the workplace

Recent legislation sanctions the monitoring of employee’s email. What argument is given in support of this legislation? What, if any, are the ethical issues raised by monitoring email?

Computer technology has made it possible for many people to work from home instead of the traditional office. What impact might this new way of working have on a) home-life, and b) the office experience? Support your answer with references from news or journal articles, or textbooks.


Table 2 - Essay evaluation criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Marks Available

Coverage of Topic

Relevance to topic title

Focus (theme/argument)

Structure (Introduction, main theme, conclusion)

Originality of thought

And including where appropriate:

  • Law: relevant legislation
  • Ethical Theory: Western ethical theory used to justify arguments
  • Codes Of Conduct: Professional codes of conduct to justify arguments
  • Additional Principles: Personal moral beliefs to justify arguments in the debate [1]

50

Quality of Research

  • Diverse and relevant of references i.e. beyond those given in the lecture notes
  • Relevant examples where appropriate
  • Diverse sources of references i.e. Internet, journals, conference papers, books and Interviews [2]

25

Presentation Skills

  • Essay has a logical structure and clear paragraphs
  • Attention is paid to spelling and grammar
  • All findings and quotes are referenced

25

Total Marks Available

/100

[1] Additional Principles could be obtained from philosophy, religion, political philosophy, principles inherited from parents and peer groups, etc.
[2] You will be penalised marks for only referring to the essential reading text for this module.