This chapter explains and integrates new approaches to teaching computing and information ethics (CIE) and researching CIE education. We first familiarize the reader with CIE by explaining three domains where information ethics may be applied: Information Ownership; Information Privacy; and Information Quality. We then outline past and current approaches to CIE education and indicate where research is necessary. Research suggestions for CIE education focus upon developing a deep understanding of the relationships between students, teachers, pedagogical materials, learning processes, teaching techniques, outcomes and assessment methods. CIE education exists to enhance individual and group ethical problem solving processes; however these are not yet fully understood, making research necessary. We then discuss CIE education research results to date and suggest new directions, including applying insights from the field of learning science as well as developing dynamic computing and information tools. Since these tools are dynamic and interactive, they will support collaboration, iteration, reflection, and revision that can help students learn CIE.
Computing And Information Ethics Education: Foci
CIE foci include concerns about who [using computers] should create, provide, own, access, use, transform, manage, or govern information. Foci also include considering consequences of creating, providing, owning, accessing, using, and transforming information (Bynum 1985, Johnson 1985, Moor 1985, Mason 1986, Weiner 1954) as well as discussions about the rights and responsibilities of individuals, groups, and societies as they interact with information. Finally, CIE foci include issues of equity, care, and virtue as information is used to transform our world.
Does anyone who creates a computer program have the right to accrue economic benefits related to use of that program? Should the program be owned by society? What best serves the individual and society? Does an economically disadvantaged youth from an urban area have a right right to use the Internet in order to learn? If so, what responsibilities do governments, corporations, not-for-profits, you as an individual, or we as a society have to provide this access? What responsibility do we have to support access to information for individuals in China? Alternatively, is the Chinese government’s censorship of the Internet appropriate? How can a multinational corporation based in the US support the right to earn a living in an information economy for young [non-emigrant] Indian citizen software engineers while concurrently maintaining its commitments [for its US employees] and [to its stockholders]. When are the social benefits derived from use of private personal information appropriate?
These are just some of the questions considered in CIE. Is there one answer to each question? Or are there multiple answers for different people in various situations, using different techniques and criteria? To introduce the reader to information ethics, and its importance to society and individuals, we now discuss three currently unresolved CIE issues below: (1) who should control procedural information (i.e., software)—information ownership, (2) who should control personal information—information privacy, and (3) information (i.e., software and data) quality.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Computing and Information Ethics Education Research: Processes that discover knowledge towards improving computing and information ethics education.
Computing and Information Ethics Education: Processes that help computing and information professionals learn computing and information ethics.
Information Quality: A domain within computing and information ethics; Computing and information professionals must consider the quality of software or data they are creating, providing, owning, accessing, using, transforming, managing, or governing. Low quality software or data have led to loss of human life.
Computing and Information Professionals: Individuals who [using computers] create, provide, own, access, use, transform, manage, or govern information.
Information privacy: A domain within computing and information ethics; Arguments about when information about specific persons should be public are considered. A current discussion focuses on trade-offs between personal information privacy and national security.
Computing and Information Ethics: Resolving issues about the rights and responsibilities of individuals, groups, and societies as they interact with information. It includes issues of equity, care, and virtue as information is used to transform a world that is very dynamic, interconnected, (d)evolving, multi-cultural, economically-disparate, and increasingly dependent upon information.
Information Ownership: A domain within computing and information ethics; Arguments for various owners of information are considered. Current discussions surround whether software written by an individual or group (procedural information) should be owned exclusively by that individual or group as intellectual property, or whether software should be owned cooperatively among users, companies, or society at large.