The Green Dam Cyber-Censor Case
As technology and its globalization become more ubiquitous and complex, software engineers and computer scientists face an increasing array of potential ethical dilemmas. It is impossible to know ahead of time how a given piece of software will be put to use, and what the implications of its use will be, but designers should consider such questions because they are in a unique position to flag potential faults and misuses. In general, society is best served if technologists don't wash their hands of non-technical questions, but engage in inquiry, or even advocacy, into technological outcomes that are ethically sound, contribute to society, and, at the very least, are not likely to do harm. Engaging in this sort of questioning and problem solving is not something engineers and scientists habitually do have a lot of practice with--it actually takes some effort to familiarize ourselves with issues and in general to keep our ethical thinking muscles in good shape. The following case study is presented to inspire you and your classmates to think about the ethical implications of software design by first elaborating on an actual case, and then by asking you to reflect on how you would react in certain situations involving ethical dilemmas. As dilemmas, they have no right answer--this is not a test to see how well you do. The purpose is to engage in the thought process itself.
- Case. Read the Case Introduction below. Then, according to your curiosity, look at the Links provided for more in-depth information.
- Forum. Go to the Discussion Forum to discuss the topic questions provided. (Your instructor will tell you the time frame for this activity.)