Computer Engineering Ethics

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2.1

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this class the course participant should be able to:  Identify some contributors to social and professional issues and relate their achievements to the knowledge area  Contrast between ethical and legal issues  Contrast between a patent, a trademark, and a copyright  Identify some ways of credentialing a person to practice computer engineering  Describe issues that contrast risk issues with safety issues  Identify some issues in computer engineering that address privacy  Describe whistle blowing and the conflicts between ethics and practice that may result from doing so  Describe how computer engineering uses or benefits from social and professional issues. 2.2 Reasons for Studying Social and Professional Issues

Computers have a central and growing role in commerce, industry, government, medicine, education, entertainment and society at large. It no longer plays a minor part in society – it is embedded in, and affects, all aspects of life, from education to healthcare to war. Dealing with the implications of this is a major challenge, and one that can impact upon us, both personally and professionally. As a consequence, it is vital that all in the computing industry make wise decisions regarding their conduct. Although technical issues are obviously central to any Computer Engineering curriculum, they do not by themselves constitute a complete educational program in the field. Students must also develop an understanding of the social and professional context in which Computer Engineering is done. Undergraduates also need to understand the basic cultural, social, legal, and ethical issues inherent in the discipline of Computer Engineering. They should understand where the discipline has been, where it is, and where it is heading. They should also understand their individual roles in this process, as well as appreciate the philosophical questions, technical problems, and aesthetic values that play an important part in the development of the discipline. Students also need to develop the ability to ask serious questions about the social impact of Computer Engineering and to evaluate proposed answers to those questions. Future practitioners must be able to anticipate the impact of introducing a given product into a given environment. Will that product enhance 1

or degrade the quality of life? What will the impact be upon individuals, groups, and institutions? Finally, students need to be aware of the basic legal rights of software and hardware vendors and users, and they also need to appreciate the ethical values that are the basis for those rights. Future practitioners must understand the responsibility that they will bear, and the possible consequences of failure. They must understand their own limitations as well as the limitations of their tools. All practitioners must make a long-term commitment to remaining current in their chosen specialties and in the discipline of Computer Engineering as a whole. 2.3 Legal Vs Ethical

Ethical is about conforming to accepted standards of social or professional behavior where as something Legal is established by or founded upon law or official or accepted rules. 2.4 Importance of Ethical Integrity in Computer Engineering Practice

Today computers play an essential role in industry, commerce, government, research, education, medicine, communication systems, entertainment and many other areas of our society. Professionals who contribute to the design, development, analysis, specification, certification, maintenance and evaluation of the many different applications of computer systems have a significant impact on society, making thereby beneficial contributions to society, but also, possibly, some less positive. To ensure that their efforts will be used for the general good, Computer Engineers must commit themselves to making Computer Engineering a beneficial and respected profession, promoting an ethical approach to their...
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