ECS 188 – Ethics in an Age of Technology – Course Information – Fall 2011
- I am Phil Rogaway, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please see my homepage, www.cs.ucdavis.edu/~rogaway,
for office hours. My office is in 3009 Kemper.
- There are two sections:
Please go exclusively to your own section.
- Section 1 is TR 10:30-11:50 (1006 Giedt)
- Section 2 is TR 1:40-3:00 (267 Olsson)
- The course web page
contains important information:
it is where your assignments are posted, as well as all announcements.
It’s a click away from my homepage.
You need to check the page frequently; I will assume that whatever gets announced there is seen by all.
- To help you with your writing and with the grading of your writing, we are luck to have
Melissa Wills ⟨email@example.com⟩,
a Ph.D. student in English. She has office hours Wednesdays 11-12 in 348 Voorhies.
You can also meet Melissa by appointment for help on writing related to this class.
- There is an obligatory final for this class. See our online course schedule for when it is. You must
pass the final to pass the class.
- There are really no prerequisites for this class.
But you must be willing to read a lot,
to write some, and to
prepare and give a reasonable presentation.
An open mind and politeness in listening to others will also serve you well.
I target the course towards junior/senior level undergraduates.
For science and engineering students, I recommend taking this class only after you have completed the
expository writing or public speaking requirements that your college or major requires.
We will be using an online
course reader that I’ve put together.
Despite its being online, I believe that most people will want to purchase a hardcopy, as
you need to bring at least the reading(s) we are talking about to class
each day. (For example, I may ask you to read a passage aloud or to explain a particular section.)
You can buy the hardcopy reader at Copyland,
a business located at 231 G Street, phone +1 530 756 2679, in downtown Davis.
As an alternative to bringing hardcopy, you may bring a tablet (eg, an iPad or a Kindle) in lieu of a printout or the hardcopy reader.
But please do not use a conventional laptop during class.
Course Structure and Goals
The course material will be broad, open-ended, and unlike
anything else the begins with an “ECS”.
Most of the class time will be spent with you guys talking.
At the end of the term, your evaluation will state the following:
My goal is to increase your inclination to think about, and act upon, the ethical implications of your
personal and professional choices, and our collective work as technologists. I’d also like you to read
a lot, to write a fair amount, and to become more comfortable participating in oral discussions and
giving an oral presentation.
The grading criteria this term is:
Quizzes will not be announced. There will be a lot of them;
many, possibly most, days will probably begin with one.
The final paper and oral presentation will be on a topic of your choice, and you
will work in pairs on it. The final exam slot will
be used both for student presentations
(assuming some students want this time slot)
and an exam.
- attendance/participation (10%) (non-linear),
- quizzes + homeworks (40%),
- final paper + oral presentation (25%), and a
- final (25%).
The grades I assign for this class tend to be high relative to other classes
I teach; if you understand the readings, do the assigned work,
and come to class every day, you should do fine.
All written assignments done outside of class must be typeset.
I encourage use of LaTeX and discourage
use of Word.
A free LaTeX implementation for PCs is MiKTeX,
and there are many others.
If you do use Word, please select a reasonable font (not
anything you produce, including your presentation, and please make sure to
justify the text (ragged right margins are meant to imitate the look of a typewriter;
they should rarely be used in this day and age).
Students are incredulous, but I am more than crazy enough to deduct points (consciously or
subconsciously) for not following these directions.
Arrival in Class
Each day, please arrange your desks in a circle before class begins.
Pick up your name card and put it on the front of your desk.
I don’t really recognize human faces; the name cards are my trick that, eventually,
I may start to feel like I know who you are.
Sitting in the same position each class is also helpful for me.
For a discussion class like ours, coming late is disruptive; please arrive on-time.
For purposes of marking attendance, you are counted as half here if you arrive late.
As a course in ethics, it would be particularly ironic if people are dishonest.
But let me say some things in this connection anyway.
All writing you do must be entirely your own (you can ask a friend
to proofread your work, but it shouldn’t go beyond that).
Your talk likewise must be entirely your own work.
Please acknowledge all ideas and quotations.
Use proper referencing.
Obviously you may not purchase your paper or presentation from any source.
Of course you can, and even should, talk to people
about what we’re reading.
Finally, it as an instance of academic dishonesty to claim that you
missed a class because of illness if that was not the actual cause.
If everyone comes to class having done the reading
and feeling ready and eager to talk about it, the class works well.
As with any seminar-format class,
you and I share the responsibility for making the class succeed.
Please take your responsibility in this connection as seriously as I do.
In truth, the class is an opportunity that should not be lost.
Where else are you seriously invited
to stop, step back, and explore the (sometimes grave) ethical issues
that we face as technologists and human beings?
And with someone who is not only a serious scientist,
but who actually cares about these things ...
I don’t see the topic of this course as an entirely “academic” undertaking.
I don’t have much patience for moral philosophy as an academic discipline stripped
of the imperative to genuinely care and to act.
My class deliberately does not stay within the
traditional confines of “computer ethics”.
If you’ve come expecting some tedious prof to implore
you not to use file-sharing networks to get your music,
or whatever else you might imagine to be the ethical issues of interest to people in a Computer Science department,
you can divest yourself of such expectations.
What I myself would like is for both of us to come out of the class not just
a little more knowledgeable, but, maybe, slightly better, wiser, or more socially engaged.
That’s a lot to hope for from a class.
Let’s see if it’s possible to do anything in that direction.
Phil Rogaway’s homepage