CS 293

Social and Ethical Issues in Computing

Spring 2014

Wednesdays 1:00–1:50 — CENT 1030

Prof. Patrick Gage Kelley

pgk @ cs.unm.edu


Society is consistently challenged by new advances, inventions, and the repercussions of technology.

This class explores these issues, from the philosophical foundations of ethics to the minutia of technology policy. Throughout the course we will cover privacy, databases, intellectual property, computer crime, safety and reliability, professional responsibility and codes, the Internet, electronic communities, smartphones, the cloud, and the social and legal impacts of these and other technologies.


Nearly every week you will have to turn in a short (ideally 1 page) written essay. These should be turned in, printed out, each Wednesday in class.


You are expect to attend class, to have completed the assigned readings, and to participate in class discussion. If you must miss a class, please send an email in advance. All assignments should be done individually.


You should not worry about your grade in this class. Students who contribute to class discussion, engage and listen to others, complete each weekly essay, and produce and present a final project will be successful in this class.


  1. Wednesday January 22
    Discussion: Introduction and class goals.
    Discussion: Current topics in social and ethical issues.
    Today in class: Office Max Emails Grieving Father
  2. Wednesday January 29
    Read for class: Net Neutrality
    Read for class: Net Neutrality is Half Dead
    Read for class: The Net Neutrality Battle Has Been Lost
    Read for class: What you need to know about the court decision...
    Read for class: Winning and Losing in the Net Neutrality Decision
    Read for class: Verizon v. FCC
    Essay due: Your essays should involve net neutrality: either the recent decision, the philosophical spirit behind net neutrality, how net neutrality could change the Internet (for consumers or companies), or how we can explain net neutrality to consumers. Discussion: Net Neutrality
  3. Wednesday February 5
    Read for class: Maner– The Uniqueness of Ethics
    Read for class: Johnson– The Uniqueness of Ethics
    Essay due: Do you agree with Maner or Johnson, or do you fall in between (note this position is precarious)? Tell your story with, ideally, a single illustrated example of how a technology either: shows a new ethical issue OR shows where one would expect a new ethical issue to arise, one finds old issues reframed. Discussion: The new ethics of technology.
  4. Wednesday February 12
    No Class
    Pretend this video is me teaching you.
  5. Wednesday February 19
    Read for class: ACM Code of Ethics
    Discussion: ACM Code of Ethics. Essay due:
    Option 1: Talk about the video. What did you find most interesting? What did you learn? Was it useful? If you wanted other people to learn one thing from it, what would it be? (Don't answer all of these questions, reminder: focus!)

    Option 2: Same questions but on the ACM Code of Ethics. Was any of it surprising? Did it confuse you? Do you disagree with any of it? This is your code!
  6. Wednesday February 26
    Read for class: Common Data Project Discussion: ACM Code of Ethics. Notes! due:
    Read a privacy policy. Try to pick a company/organization that other people won't pick. Take notes on what was interesting about it, what you learned. Consider the questions the Common Data Project asks. Consider how it interacts with the ACM Code of Ethics which you read last week.
  7. Wednesday March 4
    Choose a couple of the following readings. (At least two).
    Watch for class: Chris Anderson, DIY Drones/3D Robotics, XOXO
    Read for class: New Details of Attack on Yemeni Wedding Prompt More Demands Obama Explain Drone Policy
    Read for class: The Killing Machines
    Read for class: Drone Home
    Read for class: Drones Could Revolutionize Agriculture, Farmers Say
    For more: twitter.com/drones
    Discussion: Drones. Essay due:
    "Drones" are coming, or are already here. But this term is too vague. Are we talking about farmers dusting their crops, the military targeting enemies of the state, or Amazon delivering you the next Harry Potter book? Pick some facet of the ongoing rush to drones and focus on what that could mean for our future (reminder, be focused! Don't try to cover everything in a page, it won't fit!)
  8. Wednesday March 12
    Read for class: What Jobs Will The Robots Take?
    Guest speaker: Dr. Lydia Tapia.
  9. Wednesday March 19
    No class. Spring Break.
  10. Wednesday March 26
    Project proposal ideas due:
    Submit three ideas. Each idea should be no more than three sentences. The project must be somehow related to a social/ethical issue that is a result of computing or technology broadly. You should submit three very different ideas, all of which you are interested in, so that we can find a good, new, compelling direction for your project. This project could be a book review, an original essay, an experimental study, an explanatory brochure, or something completely different.
  11. Wednesday April 2
    Project proposals due.
    • your name
    • your email address
    • and a potential project name (you can change this later)
    • a one paragraph description of the project
    • at least five (5) links to starter ideas, arguments, facts, thoughts, essays
    • and a short description of what you will turn in (paper, website, comparison table, app, poster, etc.)
  12. Wednesday April 9
    Project Presentations 1, list of presenters:
    Danny Adams – Robotics: An Innovative Catalyst for Unemployment?
    Mason Banning – New Forms of Robotic Interaction
    Jessica Bailon – Digital Love
    Sean McDaniel – Man vs. Machine (Automation reducing the work force)
    Katherine Sivonxay – Benefits and Concerns of VeriChip
    Chris Wu – Priority for Programming Assistance Robots
  13. Wednesday April 16
    Résumé help sites: Why I Won't Read YOUR Resume
    Making a Good CS Resume
    Resumes due. Project Presentations 2, list of presenters:
    Cheston Bailon – Influenced by Choice (Software behavior change)
    Bryan Bishop – Whose property is it really?
    Dan Kestell – Growing Up in the Digital Generation
    Javier Pena – Computing Communication (computing alienating us)
    Ronald Shaw – Video Game Violence, Degradation, and Censorship
    Edgar Salas – Social Media & Young Children
    Richard Tran – The Console Curfew
  14. Wednesday April 23
    Project Presentations 3, list of presenters:
    Ian Anderson – Privacy Policies Demystified
    James Holland – Republic Wireless Security over Wi-Fi
    Austin Loeppke – Privacy in the Future
    Ravi Patel – Virtual Reality (new devices)
    Michael Montoya – GPS Tracking: Tracking the World
    David Shubsda – Three Dimensional Printers: Warnings and Dangers
    Troy Squillaci – Are Crypto-currencies Viable in All Markets?
  15. Monday April 28
    Project version 1.0 due by midnight (email to pgk@cs) – note special day.
  16. Wednesday April 30
    Guest speaker.
  17. Wednesday May 7
    Final class.
  18. During the week of May 5th or May 12th you must make an appointment to see Prof. Kelley (these will be scheduled via Doodle poll as we get closer). These meetings will give you a chance to discuss your final project and to make final revisions. Sign up for the doodle poll here

    The final deadline for the projects will be by midnight on Wednesday May 14th, these again must be submitted by email. Early submissions are encouraged, as are multiple rounds of revision.