Computer Science


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  1. Using the worksheets in Brown as a guide (3.2, 3.3): Present your proposal, giving your observations, assumptions and value judgments. Present the counterargument (an alternative proposal/argument).  Explain why the alternative argument cannot work for you (it might help following #3-5 (page 37) and # 3-6 (p. 39)).  Page 75 in Brown gives a good template for argumentative dialog that includes everything. Attach this outline to the beginning of your paper.
  2. Defend your proposal according to an ethics of purpose, an ethics of principle, and an ethics of consequence (or Moor’s Just Consequentialism) (Chapter 4 in Brown – or Chapter 2 in Tavani).
  3. Make clear that you have done the relevant assigned readings by critically reflecting on them and using 5 citations (at least 3 from 3 different assigned class articles.  Remember that this is NOT a descriptive research paper.
  4. Length:  Double or 1.5 space, ragged right your paper. Length should be 5 – 6.

Please Choose either Topic A or B


Harry’s Medical Home Companion.

Samuelson, P., “Liability for Defective Electronic Information” in Computers, Ethics & Social Values, (eds) D. G. Johnson & H. Nissenbaum, Prentice-Hall Inc, 1995

“Harry works as a computer programmer for a manufacturer of medical equipment, but his avocation and deepest interest has been for many years the study of medical treatments for human diseases.  He has read all the major medical textbooks used by practitioners today, as well as many books about herbal and other organic treatments used in traditional societies before the modern era.

Harry’s goal is to sell his program to ordinary folk so that they can readily compare what today’s medical professionals and traditional societies would recommend for treatment of specific diseases.  Harry believes people should be empowered to engage in more self-treatment for illnesses and that his program will aid this process by giving ordinary people knowledge about this subject.  To make the program more user friendly and interesting, Harry has added some multimedia features to it, such as sound effects and computer animations to illustrate the effects of certain treatments on the human body.

Harry cannot, of course, practice medicine because he does not have a license to be a medical doctor.  But that does not mean he cannot write a book or a computer program discussing treatments for various diseases, for in our society no one needs a license to be a writer or a programmer.  Harry arranges for the program to be published and sold by Lightweight Software through its website and in health food stores throughout the country.”

You are a newly appointed IT Manager employed by Lightweight Software and have just heard about the proposed publication of this program.  You feel very uncomfortable about both the production and publication of this product but are not sure what action to take.  Should you publish it?  How does the Internet make this situation better or worse?

B.  On This Day: Robert Tappan Morris Becomes First Hacker Prosecuted for Spreading Virus–Robert-Morris-Becomes-First-Hacker-Prosecuted-For-Spreading-Virus.html

July 26, 2011 05:00 AM

by findingDulcinea Staff

On July 26, 1989, Cornell graduate student Robert Tappan Morris was indicted for spreading the Internet’s first worm virus, infecting more than 6,000 university, research center and military computers.

The Morris Worm Cripples Internet
Robert Tappan Morris was a Harvard graduate and Cornell graduate student when he developed the first widely spread Internet “worm.” He released it on Nov. 2, 1988, using MIT’s systems to disguise the fact that he was a Cornell student.

The worm was intended to be harmless, but Morris made a mistake in writing it. He hoped that only one copy of the worm would infect each computer, but in an attempt to circumvent computers that would say it already had a copy, he “programmed the worm to duplicate itself every seventh time it received a ‘yes’ response,” explains eWeek.

The Morris worm began replicating itself at a far faster rate than he had intended, flooding hard drives and causing extensive damage. A friend of Morris tried to send out a warning to other users, but many systems had already shut down.

In just a few days, the Morris worm traveled across Arpanet, the precursor to today’s Internet, and infected more than 6,000 computers at universities, research centers and military installations.

The cost in removing the worm from each computer ranged from $200 to more than $53,000. According to estimates by the U.S. General Accounting Office, between $100,000 and $10 million was lost due to lack of access to the Internet.

Morris was soon identified as the source of the worm, and authorities sought to indict him under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which outlawed gaining unauthorized access to federal computers.

It took prosecutors eight months to hand down an indictment because there was “an internal debate over whether it might be impossible to prove the charges,” reported The New York Times. Prosecutors had to prove that “Morris intended to cripple the computer network.”

Morris was found guilty in 1990. He was given a light sentence: a $10,050 fine, 400 hours of community service, and a three-year probation.

Background: The Morris Worm

A worm is a self-replicating virus that hides itself on computer hard drives and spreads to other computers on its network. How Stuff Works provides a simple explanation of worms and computer viruses.

short explanation of how the Morris Worm functioned is provided by Charles Schmidt and Tom Darby, authors of “The What, Why, and How of the 1988 Internet Worm.” A detailed analysis of the Morris Worm is provided in a report by Purdue computer sciences professor Eugene Spafford that was originally released Nov. 29, 1988.

While many people saw him as a criminal who had maliciously damaged property, accessed confidential information, and created national panic among computer users, others thought he did computer users a favor by exposing security flaws. Those who thought this, thought that no jail time was appropriate, but community service was.  Others argued that he should go to jail.  A jail sentence would send a message to those attempting similar actions on computer systems.  Pick a position and defend it with ethical theories.

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