CS 4873: Computing, Society, & Professionalism

Instructor: Amy Bruckman
Email: asb at cc.gatech.edu
Office Hours: Sign up for a student hours meeting.


  Jaswanth Pyneni (Head TA), jpyneni at gatech.edu A07, Thursdays 8:25 am-10:30 am
  Conor Brownell, cbrownell3 at gatech.edu A01, W 3:30 pm-5:25 pm
    A15, Thursday 6:30 pm-8:25 pm
  Hemanth Chittanuru, hchittanuru3 at gatech.edu A03, W 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
    A09, Thursday 12:30 pm-2:25 pm
  Nilay Mehta, nilay.mehta at gatech.edu A04, W 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
    A11, Thursday 3:30 pm-5:25 pm
  Varun Nambiar, vnambiar.994 at gatech.edu A14, Th 6:30 pm-8:25 pm
    A16, F 8:25 am-10:20 am
  Luis Leones Pastrana, pastrana at gatech.edu A05, W 6:30 pm-8:25 pm
    A08, Thursday 12:30-2:25 pm
  Neeraj Sabapathy, nsabapathy3 at gatech.edu A06, W 6:30 pm-8:25 pm
    A12, Thursday 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
  Sania Shaikh, sania at gatech.edu A13, Th 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
  Harrison Wilco, hwilco at gatech.edu A02, W 3:30 pm-5:25 pm
    A10, Thursday 3:30 pm-5:25 pm


Lectures MW 11:00 am-11:50 am
on BlueJeans (see Canvas for link)

on BlueJeans (see Canvas for your section for link)

Discussion: On the Canvas for each section, and as a whole class on Piazza

Class Schedule

Learning Objectives

In this class, you will learn about:

What do "right" and "wrong" mean anyway? How is "ethical" different from "legal"? We'll learn about several philosophical approaches to ethics including utilitiarianism, Kantianism, social contract theory, and virtue ethics. The goal is for students to be able to address ethical dilemmas with reasoned arguments, grounded in a combination of these ethical theories.
Professional Ethics
What special responsibilities do we have as computing professionals? What do the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and ACM Code of Ethics say, and how can we use these in our daily practice?
Computing and Society
In what ways does computer technology impact society? We'll talk about a host of issues including privacy, intellectual property, and freedom of speech.


Required Texts:

Please make sure to read the correct (online only) edition of the Quinn book, since content in it gets quickly out of date.

Assignments and Grading

Lectures will be online on Blue Jeans. The Blue Jeans link is available on Canvas.

Sections will occur by BlueJeans (link on your section's Canvas). Class attendance is required for sections.

The material in this class is best understood through discussion. Therefore, sections are important. Section participation is graded. Your lowest single section grade is dropped.

Before section, you must watch the lectures for that week and do the readings. Your section leader will deduct substantially from your participation grade if you are not prepared.

If you miss section for a legitimate reason, you may be given a makeup assignment. The make-up assignment will typically consist of answering all the questions for discussion in writing, and one more essay that asks you to synthesize what is important Email your TA for the make-up assignment. This includes students who added the class late, are ill, have a job interview, or whatever other reason. Make-up assignments may be handed in up to two weeks after the missed section; up to one-week later for the final section.

A short quiz will be given at the start of some section meetings, to verify that you have watched the videos and done the reading. Your lowest quiz score will be dropped. If you do the make-up assignment for a section, your make-up assignment grade will also count as your quiz grade.

Reference Format
Please use APA format for all references. APA format is described here.

No Multi-Tasking in Section
Please do not use your laptop or cell phone during section for anything other than video conferencing, taking notes, and referring to assigned readings.

Please keep your camera ON during section. It's easier to have a meaningful conversation when you can see everyone. If you are having bandwidth problems, you may ask your TA if it's OK to turn the camera off.

Homeworks will be graded on a list of criteria (specified on the assignment) such as quality of writing, completeness, insight into technical issues, insight into social issues, etc. For each criterion, you will receive either a check plus, check, or check minus. Most criterion will receive a check. A plus means "you impressed me." A minus means the assignment is incomplete, incorrect, or sloppy in some fashion with respect to that criterion.

Please hand all assignments in on Canvas unless explicitly instructed otherwise.

If English is not your first language, you may request to not be graded on your writing for a particular individual assignment, including the term paper. This means you won't be penalized for bad writing, but you also won't get credit for good writing. To take advantage of this option, you must mark "ESL" (English as a Second Language) on the first page of your assignment/paper. This option is not available for group assignments. We still of course expect you to try to write in correct English, and will do our best to offer useful feedback on your writing.

Late Policy
Assignments are due 15 minutes before the start of our assigned class time on the day they are due (10:45 am ET). Late assignments will be penalized at a rate of 3 pts (one grade step: A becomes A-) per day. Assignments more than one week late will not be accepted.

Please double space your assignments.

Over the course of the term, you have three "late days" where work may be late with no explanation needed. Please mark 'usee my late days' on the first page of your assignment/paper if want to use your late days when you make late submissions. Use your late days wisely as different submissions have different weights. If you have used your late days on a low-value assignment like a homework, you can't later transfer them to a different assignment.

Honor Code
This class abides by the Georgia Tech Honor Code. All assigned work is expected to be individual, except where explicitly written otherwise. You are encouraged to discuss the assignments with your classmates; however, what you hand in should be your own work.

Please be careful not to copy sentences from readings/references into your assignments verbatim. Sometimes this happens accidentally. For example, a student may copy and paste a sentence into their file of notes, and then later refer to their notes and forget that the sentence is not their own. If you copy anything into notes, make sure to write where you got it from. Other times, students who are struggling with English as a second language may copy sentences because they are struggling with the language. Do not do this. Remember that we have a lenient policy on grading for ESL students.

If copied sentences are detected and the copying appears incidential, the assignment will be penalized for 5 to 10 points per sentence. If the copying is more extensive, the student will be refered to the Office of Student Integrity.

Statement of Intent for Inclusivity
As a member of the Georgia Tech community, I am committed to creating a learning environment in which all of my students feel safe and included. Because we are individuals with varying needs, I am reliant on your feedback to achieve this goal. To that end, I invite you to enter into dialogue with me about the things I can stop, start, and continue doing to make my classroom an environment in which every student feels valued and can engage actively in our learning community.


Assignments and ideas on this syllabus build on those from everyone who has taught it before, especially Colin Potts, Mary Jean Harrold, Bill Ribarsky, and Spencer Rugaber.