Prim's Algorithm

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Early in the information technology revolution Richard Mason suggested that the coming changes in information technologies would necessitate rethinking the social contract (Mason 1986). What he could not have known then was how often we would have to update the social contract as these technologies rapidly change. Information technologies change quickly and move in and out of fashion at a bewildering pace. This makes it difficult to try to list them all and catalog the moral impacts of each. The very fact that this change is so rapid and momentous has caused some to argue that we need to deeply question the ethics of the process of developing emerging technologies (Moor 2008). It has also been argued that the ever morphing nature of information technology is changing our ability to even fully understand moral values as they change. Lorenzo Magnani claims that acquiring knowledge of how that change confounds our ability to reason morally “…has become a duty in our technological world” (Magnani 2007, 93). The legal theorist Larry Lessig warns that the pace of change in information technology is so rapid that it leaves the slow and deliberative process of law and political policy behind and in effect these technologies become lawless, or extralegal. This is due to the fact that by the time a law is written to curtail, for instance, some form of copyright infringement facilitated by a particular file sharing technology, that technology has become out of date and users are on to something else that facilitates copyright infringement (Lessig 1999). The more specific term “computer ethics” has been used to refer to applications by professional philosophers of traditional Western theories like utilitarianism, Kantianism, or virtue ethics, to ethical cases that significantly involve computers and computer networks. “Computer ethics” also has been used to refer to a kind of professional ethics in which computer professionals apply codes of ethics and standards of good practice within their profession. In addition, other more specific names, like “cyber ethics” and “Internet ethics”, have been used to refer to aspects of computer ethics associated with the Internet. During the past several decades, the robust and rapidly growing field of computer and information ethics has generated new university courses, research professorships, research centers, conferences, workshops, professional organizations, curriculum materials, books and journals. Much of the ethical debate about computers and information technology more generally has been informed by the ‘impact view’ of information technology. Within this tradition a number of issues have emerged as important. For example, whether compute generate new types of ethical problems that require new or different ethical theories or, whether it is just more of the same (Gorniak 1996). These debates are often expressed  in the language of the impact of information technology on particular values and rights (Johnson 1985, 1994). Thus, we have discussions on the impact of CCTV or web cookies on, the right to privacy, the impact of the digital divide on the right to access information, the impact of the piracy of software on property rights, and so forth. In these debates Jim Moor (1985) has argued that computers show up policy vacuums that require new thinking and the establishment of new policies. Others have argued that the resources provided by classical ethical theory such as utilitarianism, consequentialism and deontological ethics is more than enough to deal with all the ethical issues emerging from our design and use of information technology (Gert 1999). Irrespective of whether information technology creates new types of ethical problems that require new ethical theory or whether established ethical theory is sufficient, one tends to find the debate centered on questions of policy that is intended to regulate or justify conduct. These policies are seen, and presented as ways to regulate or...
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