Course Reader – ECS 188 – Ethics in an Age of Technology

This ever-evolving course reader has been assembled by Prof. Phillip Rogaway for use in UC Davis course ECS 188, Ethics in an Age of Technology. Much of the material is password protected; see the copyright notice at the bottom of the page.

  1. A Brief Note to the Student by Phillip Rogaway. 2015.
    Sociological Perspectives
  2. Views of Technology (scan) by Ian Barbour. From Chapter 1 of Ethics in an Age of Technology (The Gifford Lectures, 1989–1991, Volume 2), HarperCollins, 1993.
  3. Why America Failed — The Illusion of Power (scan) by Morris Berman. Chapter 3 from Why America Failed. John Wiley, 2011.
  4. Do Machines Make History? (scan) by Robert L Heilbroner. Technology and Culture, vol. 8, pp. 335–345, July 1967.
  5. Do Artifacts have Politics? by Langdon Winner. From The Whale and the Reactor, The University of Chicago Press, 1984. Earlier version from Daedalus, Vol. 109, No. 1, Winter 1980.
  6. Do Politics have Artefacts? by Bernward Joerges. From Social Studies of Science, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 411-431, 1999.
  7. Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change by Neil Postman. Speech given in Denver, Colorado, USA. March 27, 1998.
  8. Industrial Society and Technological Systems (scan) by Ruth Schwartz Cowan. From A Social History of American Technology, pp. 149–172, 1997.
  9. The Machine Stops by E. M. Forester (1909) (fiction), and related links (including an audio recording) by Ray Kurzweil
    Engineering Perspectives
  10. An open letter by Norbert Wiener (1947) and the final passage of The Human Use of Human Beings, by Norbert Wiener (1950).
  11. Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us by Bill Joy. Appeared in Wired, issue 8.04, April 2000.
  12. Promise and Peril by Ray Kurzweil. Appeared in Interactive Week, April 23, 2000.
  13. The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster (1909).
    Economic Perspectives
  14. The Lexus and the Olive Tree (scan) by Thomas Friedman. A selection (13 pages) from Friedman’s book of the same title, including portions of Chapters 1, 3, and 12. Anchor Books, Random House, 1999.
  15. The Lexus and the Olive Tree Revisited (not yet OCR’d) by Ha-Joon Chang. Chapter 1 from Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. Bloomsbury Press, 2008.
  16. A Road Map for Natural Capitalism (original) by Amory B. Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins, and Paul Hawken, Harvard Business Review, May-June, 1999.
  17. Readings from Making Globalization Work by Joseph Stiglitz: ch1 (Another World is Possible), ch4 (Patents, Profits, and People), ch6 (Saving the Planet), ch7 (The Multinational Company).
    Philosophical Perspectives
  18. A Framework for Thinking Ethically by Manuel Velasquez et al., Santa Clara University. May 2009.
  19. Philosophical Ethics (scan) by Deborah Johnson. Chapter 2 from Computer Ethics, Prentice Hall, 2001. Current edition (2009).
  20. The Altered Nature of Human Action (scan) by Hans Jonas. Chapter 1 from The Imperative of Responsibility. University of Chicago Press, 1985. Some helpful vocabulary for this reading.
  21. The Question Concerning Technology (scan) by Martin Heidegger (1954/1977). For help, see Prof. John Zuern’s web pages on this essay.
  22. Technological Subversion by David Strong. From Crazy Mountains: Learning from Wilderness to Weigh Technology. State University of New York Press, 1995. Not yet OCR’d.
    Environmental Perspectives
  23. The Land Ethic by Aldo Leopold. From A Sand County Almanac, 1949.
  24. Oldest Living Tree Tells All by M. Cohen (http). A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments. No. 14, Winter/Spring 2004.
  25. The Tragedy of the Commons (scan) (text) by Garrett Hardin. Science, vol. 168, pp. 1243–1248, December 13, 1968.
  26. The World as a Polder: What Does It All Mean to Us Today? by Jared Diamond. Chapter 16 from Collapse: How Societies Chose to Fail or Succeed, Viking Penguin, 2005. Not yet OCR’d
  27. This was a Crime (scan) by Mart Hersgaard. Chapter 10 Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth. (Replacing: We Haven’t Done a Damned Thing by Eric Pooley. Chapter 1 from The Climate Wars: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth. Hyperion, 2010.)
    Psychological Perspectives
  28. Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior by Paul Piff, Daniel Stancato, Stephane Cote, Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, and Dacher Keltner. PNAS, 2012.
  29. How We See Ourselves and How We See Others by Emily Pronin. Science, vol 320, May 30, 2008.
  30. Technology and Happiness by James Surowiecki. From Technology Review, 2005.
    For a broader discussion, see: Happiness: has social science a clue? By Richard Layard. Transcript of three lectures presented at the London School of Economics, March 3-5, 2003.
  31. Can Psychology be Taught? by Daniel Kahneman. From Thinking, Fast and Slow, Chapter 16, pp. 170-174. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.
  32. Computers, Ethics, and Collective Violence (scan) by Craig Summers and Eric Markusen. Journal of Systems and Software, vol. 17, pp. 91–103, 1992.
  33. Marshal McLuhan Interview. From Playboy, 1969. Some helpful vocabulary for this reading.
  34. War (original URL) by Brian Orend. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. First published Feb 4, 2000; last revised July 28, 2005.
  35. Farewell Address to the Nation by Dwight D. Eisenhower January 17, 1961. A very short reading to pair with the film “Why We Fight”
  36. Moving Beyond Fast Food Nation (video), with Peter Singer and Eric Schlosser. From a conference on "Food, Ethics & the Environment", Princeton University, November 2006.
    Also: an interview with Michael Pollan by Marc Eisen from The Progressive, November 2008.
    Intellectual Property
  37. The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (author’s website) by James Boyle. Yale University Press, 2008. Also available in print. Thanks to the author for making his entire book available on-line, under a CC license.
  38. The GNU Manifesto (original URL) by Richard Stallman. 1985.
  39. The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution. By Peter Biddle, Paul England, Marcus Peinado, and Bryan Willman. Proc. of the 2002 ACM Workshop on Digital Rights Management.
  40. Microsoft Research DRM Talk by Cory Doctorow, 2004.
    Surveillance, Big Data, and Machine Learning
  41. The Snowden revelations. Articles: Verizon (2013.06.2013), PRISM (2013.07.07), The NSA Revelations All in One Chart (2014.06.30), How spy agencies defeat security mechanisms (2013.09.06),
    Videos: Poitras 1, Poitras 2, TED2014 talk by Snowden
  42. U.S. government’s view of the above: Administration response on telephone metadata collection (2013.08.09), PCLOB Report on PRISM/Upstream surveillance, TED2014 talk by Richard Ledgett.
  43. The Fate of Internet by John Naughton (2013.07.28) and Taking back the Internet by Bruce Schneier (2013.09.05)
  44. The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work by Phil Rogaway (2015)
  45. Information Consumerism by Evgeny Morozov (FAZ, 2013.07.24);
  46. Big other: surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization by Shoshana Zuboff (2015)
  47. Automated Inference on Criminality using Face Images by Xiaolin Wu and Xi Zhang (2016)
  48. The Transparent Society by David Brin. From Wired Magazine, Issue 4.12, December 1996. See the author’s book (1998) for a fuller treatment.
  49. Against Transparency by Lawrence Lessig. New Republic, March 27, 2013.
  50. Bhopal Lives by Suketu Mehta. Appeared in The Village Voice on Dec 3, 1996 and on Dec 10, 1996. CNN photos
  51. The Therac-25 Accidents by Nancy G. Leveson. Appears on the author’s website and as Appendix A of Safeware: System Safety and Computers, Addison-Wesley Professional, 1995. For a shorter version: Therac-25 Case Materials, from
  52. The Fifty-Nine-Story Crisis (OCR-produced html) by Joe Morgenstern. The New Yorker, May 29, 1995, pp. 45–53.
    Our Profession
  53. Codes of ethics:
    (a) ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, 1992
    (b) IEEE Code of Ethics, 2006
    (c) Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practices, 1999.
    Accompanying materials: some scenarios collected up from Sara Baase’s book.
  54. Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women and Computing (scan3, scan6) by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher. The reading (14 pages) is an except from Chapters 3 and 6 of Margolis and Fisher’s book published by MIT Press, 2002. Reconsider selection/redaction.
  55. Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber by James Damore (2017) (got its author fired)
  56. Disciplined Minds (scan) by Jeff Schmidt. The reading (17 pages) is a selection drawn from chapters 1, 2, 3, and 13 of Schmidt’s book, Disciplined Minds: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System That Shapes Their Lives, Rowman & Littlefield, 2001. (Do not omit.)
    Concluding Remarks
  57. Some pledges
  58. pledge; including the resources on the bottom, particularly the one by Sarah Kendzior
  59. Russell-Einstein Manifesto (1955), Bethe to Clinton (1985)
  60. Video clip from Jacob Bronowski’s TV mini-series The Ascent of Man (1973).

We will also see some or all of the following films:
  1. Dekalog (Part 1), 1989. Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski. Time is 51.5 mins (beginning to start of credits). Following some introductory remarks, I usually show this film in the first or second class meeting.
  2. An Inconvenient Truth (2006). Presented by Al Gore, directed by Davis Guggenheim. Custom CD omits first 34 seconds of chapter 1, and omits 10, 12, 13, and 15. Time is 79 mins to start of credits, and 84 mins including enjoyable credits.
  3. Why We Fight, 2005. Written and directed by Eugene Jarecki. Custom CD omits chapters 2 and 5. Time is 79.5 mins (start to beginning of credits) .
  4. The Corporation, 2003. Written by Joel Bakan, directed by Mark Archbar and Jennifer Abbott. Custom CD includes chapters 1–5, 8:[beg–47:29], 8:[51:33–end], 10:[beg–1:02:34], 16[1:24:56–1:26:45], 18, 19:[beg–1:50:27], 22:[2:02:40–2:17:23], 23–24. Time is 79.5 mins (beginning to start of credits).
  5. Food, Inc., 2008. By Robert Kenner. Total time is 94 mins.
  6. The Lives of Others, 2006. By Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. 137 mins.

This reader is a living document. If you have suggestions for additions, deletions, or changes, please let me know.

Copyright Information The materials assembled here are exclusively for educational purposes in one particular class at UCD. Some of the readings are believed to be in the public domain, or have unrestrictive use permissions (eg, they are CC-licensed). Other materials fall under traditional copyright, and are included with due consideration to the four factors used in ascertaining fair use; these have placed in a password-protected subdirectory. Some readings have been OCR’d from scans, to reduce file size and improve legibility.

Last updated Jan 2014