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Sample Proposal: Ethics and Leadership

College of Natural Sciences

Please direct all questions about the flag proposal process to the Center for the Core Curriculum.

C S 329E: Elements of Computing in Society

Department of Computer Sciences

Please describe specifically how students will learn about what is involved in making real-life ethical choices.

The course requires students to investigate CS issues and to write a report that presents and defends their results. The main goal of the class is to expose students to issues like privacy, intellectual property, fair access to information, risk, security, and the possible impact of advanced artificial intelligence and to motivate students to play leadership roles, as citizens, in the way we develop and exploit computing technology.

What are typical readings or other materials in the course or class related to Ethics and Leadership?

“Blown to Bits” by Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen and Harry Lewis. Additional readings include “A Very Short History of Computer Ethics” and “Norbert Weiner’s Foundation of Computer Ethics” by Terrell Ward Bynum, the ACM’s “Total Information Awareness” letter, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” by Bill Joy, and “The Future Needs Us!” by Freeman Dyson.

Describe typical assignments related to Ethics and Leadership.

The major requirement for the class is a term project. Students will choose from one of the class’s topic areas (as outlined above) and they will write a paper that they also present and defend to the class. There are several short essay assignments such as: “How could we implement rationing in the eBay era?”, “What do you see as the advantages and the risks of government programs like Total Information Awareness?”, and “How might we allocate society’s resources once robots make human work obsolete?”. Homework assignments include a quiz that lets students compare their ethical positions to that of the world’s most influential ethical philosophers and bringing a weekly news article to class that relates to one of the important policy areas mentioned above.

Please explain how at least one-third of the course grade is based on content related to Ethics and Leadership.

40% of the grade is based on the term project, and half of that grade is based on presentation, the other half on content. 43% of the grade is based on homework, almost all of which are writing assignments that relate to ethical issues or an issue where it is important for knowledgeable computer scientist to weigh in on a matter of public policy. 10% of the grade comes from the weekly news articles.

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