CSC 599: Senior Capstone
Fall 2018

Midterm Paper

The latest revision of the ACM Code of Ethics raises a recent yet important ethical issue concerning the unintended consequences of software? Many cutting-edge software systems utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, such as neural networks, genetic algorithms, and data mining. One characteristic of these types of systems that has led to their real-world success is that they are adaptive, able to learn from past performance to improve and refine their behavior. As a result, the developers of these systems cannot know exactly how they work or be able to predict behavior in all situations.

The question is: what responsibilities and liabilities should a developer have with respect to unintended consequences? When a self-driving car kills a pedestrian, should its developers be held responsible? If so, how do you determine which programmer on the development team is the responsible party? What if software that a bank uses to identify risks in mortgage loans ends up discriminating against ethnic or socioeconomic groups? If that was not the intent of the developers who created the software, are they still ethically responsible? If true artificial intelligence is ever created (think SkyNet from The Terminator movies), are the developers of the software that it evolved from responsible for its actions? If not, what ethical directive prohibits recklessly developing hostile software?

You are to write a 5-10 page midterm paper focusing on the ethical issues related to the unintended consequences of software. In your analysis, you should support your arguments with specific real-world cases and should reference the ethical dimensions described in the Laudon paper: rule-based vs. consequence-based and individual vs. collective. Your paper should reference at least five reputable sources.

The grading rubric for this paper is as follows:

Readability (grammar, spelling, clarity, sufficient length)0-20 points
Takes a position and provides justification
    Includes sufficient background and factual information
    Includes information and analysis appropriate for a computer scientist
0-20 points
0-10 points
0-10 points
Argument is cohesive and persuasive
    Specifically cites the ethical dimensions
    Cites credible references appropriately
0-20 points
0-10 points
0-10 points