Questions for What is Computer Ethics by James H

What is Computer Ethics by James H. Moor
Computers are special technology & raise special technical issues
Computer ethics is the analysis of the nature and social impact of computer
technology and the corresponding formulation and justification of policies for the
ethical use of such technology.
There is not only a policy vacuum, but a conceptual vacuum as well. We need a
conceptual framework to help us.
Can you think of examples of policy vacuums? Conceptual vacuums?
E.g. Intellectual Property Rights: computer program… (new categories of things)
Evaluation forces us to make our value preferences explicit.
How have values relative to technology changed in the last 20 years?
(Disposable income -> technology)
Computer ethics as a field is changing as the computer field changes.
What is special about computers
o What makes them revolutionary?
 Suggestions: Affordable, Abundant,
Dramatic improvement in performance
 Logical malleability: a universal tool, a raw resource
Social impact of computers
o Two stages of development
 E.g. the Industrial revolution:
1. Technological introduction, then
2. Technological Permeation.
 E.g. computer technology in voting: announce victor before polls
[1952 Walter Cronkite & CBS news borrowed a UNIVAC to
statistically predict result between Eisenhower & Stevenson]
o Work may become instructing computers what to do
o Question is no longer about how computers use money, but rather “What
is money?” Question changes from how computers help in education, to
“What is education?”
What is operationally suspect about computing technology
o Invisibility factor: leads to abuse
 bank rounding of cents, invasion of privacy, surveillance
o Invisible programming values: programmer makes decisions
 e.g. SABRE: how is airline info. listed, ordered?
 3 Mile island: testing is based on certain assumptions
o Complex calculation: too complex for a human to evaluate: 4 color map
problem. Also consider nuclear defense sensors & human response time
- One the flip side: computers can help make the invisible visible (pattern