4. Scientific, social and ethical aspects

Scientific, social and ethical aspects of computer science, reflection seminar in May 2015

Preparations for the reflection

  • The increased use of computer games, in particular among very young persons, has led to a lot of public debate. Please read the Wikipedia article on Video game controversies.
  • A famous example of a successful engineer and scientist accused of a lack of ethical perspective is Fritz Haber (1868-1934). He received the Nobel Prize in 1918 for developing the process of making synthetic fertilisers, a finding which may have saved millions of people worldwide from starvation. On the other hand, his passion seems to have been centered around developing efficient poisonous gases used in the first world war; work which eventually led to the label "father of chemical warfare". His wife committed suicide; some claim due to her consistent failures to convince her husband to stop pursuing this kind of work. There are even claims that the synthetic fertilisers where only a bi-product from his efforts to develop more efficient ammunition. Please read the Wikipedia article about Fritz Haber.

The written reflection

Write a reflection document where you address the following points based on your preparations and your experience and expectations. The document should be 500-600 words.

  • If you were to work in the gaming industry you would be affected by the debate on video games, whether you like it or not. As an engineer, you could take different standpoints in a situation like this: ignore the controversy, follow it passively, perhaps adapting your products based on the debate, or even actively participate in the public debate. Reflect on the consequences for you personally, your company and society at large of the different standpoints.
  • Computers have an enormous impact on society, today and in the future. Try to envision a modern Fritz Haber; a computer scientist, smart but with a lack of ethical perspective. Describe a scenario where this person could end up with a similar reputation.
  • Looking back at your education, reflect on if and where you have learned how to relate to this kind of questions.

Hand in the reflection, read the group members' reflections and comment on them

Your written reflection must be handed in before April 29, 2015, at 24.00. Maybe you should once again look at the short video showing how to upload the document to Google Drive. The link to the document should be put in a file with your name in the directory
/info/prosamm14/seminars-1415/period-4/group-X
where X is your group's number (same number as last seminar, you can look it up in Rapp!).

You have to comment on all the other group members' reflection documents using the Google Drive comment functionality (Comment in the Insert menu) before May 4, at 12.00.

Fill in the study approach questionnaire that will be emailed to you

In a few days you will get an email with a link to the questionnaire. The questions are about study habits, and by answering them you will reveal your general study approach. The questionnaire, which is mandatory, should be filled in before May 4, at 23.59. When all students have answered the questionnaire, the system will calculate your study approach values and email your personal values to you, together with the mean values of all students. Except for this email, the questionnaire is anonymous.

Participate actively in the seminar

Find your group number in the table below and lookup when and where your seminar is. The seminar is about 50 minutes, and it is important to be on time. Notice the odd starting times! Instructions on how to find the rooms can be found in the menu to the left.

Time 1537 4523 1625 523-Cvap F0-TMH 440-TMH
May 5, 8.10-9.00 26 24 34 38
May 5, 9.10-10.00 25 36 33 22
May 7, 15.10-16.00 28 30 37 32 23
May 7, 16.10-17.00 27 29 21 31 35

Ladok reporting

If you belong to prosamm14 (year 1 of the master's program), you will get the Ladok course component UPP1 (worth 1 higher education credit) reported when you have written your reflection, commented the other group members' reflections, participated in the seminar and filled in the questionnaire (if you have passed seminar 1-3 and participated in the study visit). If you missed anything of the above (you can check this in Rapp), you need to read the general seminars web page too see what to do.

If you belong to prosamm13 (year 2 of the master's program), UPP1 should already be reported. You will get the second course component UPP2 reported when you have done everything above and handed in the concluding reflection about the whole education. Link to the instructions. The concluding reflection should be handed in before June 5, 2015.

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