Recently, there has been a large push by many people to make computer science and coding classes a staple in the American education system, just as mathematics and science is. Some have even gone as far as calling coding “the new literacy”. While I do not believe that understanding and being able to write code as being on the same level as being able to read and write your native language, I do believe that being able to write and understand code will only increase in importance in the coming years and should be incorporated more heavily into the American public education system. Growing up, I never had the opportunity to take a computer science class until I had already arrived at Notre Dame. During my senior year in high school I was planning on taking the AP Computer Science course offered, but most of the colleges I planned on applying to had said that, as a prospective engineering student, I needed to take a calculus based physics course, which was at the same time as the computer science course I planned on taking, so I had to drop the computer science course I was originally going to take. This was the only chance I had to get accustomed with coding before I came to Notre Dame and I believe that it would have helped me greatly in my first year or two as a computer science student if I had at least seen some code before then. Therefore, I believe that, while it might not be required for everyone, computer science and coding classes should be offered more widely and easier for students to take these types of classes if they so desire.
In terms of how computer science would be offered, I believe that offering it beginning in high school would be sufficient. While I do believe that offering it earlier would be better, I don’t recall there being much choice in student’s schedule in the public school system up through 8th grade and making it a requirement for everyone might not work best. Therefore, I believe that offering it as an elective through high school, with multiple different electives consisting of differing skill levels and difficulties as students progress throughout high school. As to what exactly should be taught in these courses, I believe that the courses should teach a popular coding language and introduce topics through that coding language, allowing the student to be proficient in at least one language before they enter college. This would most likely be the easiest way to teach computer science to high schoolers, especially freshmen in high school, as there may be students who have not taken calculus or higher level math courses and may not be able to understand some of the concepts learned in computer architecture, theory of computing or other higher level computer science courses. The beginning classes could take a curriculum similar to what we did in Fundamentals of Computing where it would start at the beginning of the coding language and work through some topics such as functions and other simple coding topics. The upper level courses could get into more complicated, beginning level topics in computer science and set up these students well to go into their freshmen year at college and succeed in a computer science education.
A patent is a form of intellectual property given to the owner and creator of an invention which prohibits others from making, selling, using and importing this invention for a prolonged period of time. Generally, this period of time is 20 years, but it could be longer. In terms of the ethical and moral reasons for granting patents, it prohibits an unethical individual from attempting to steal another person’s invention for their own profit. Because patents do not allow someone other than the patent holder to sell the invention, without the patent holder’s discretion, the only person that can profit off of this invention is the patent holder. This also looks at one of the economic consequences of a patent. Due to the patent’s restrictive nature, only a patent holder can benefit economically from their invention, which may deter innovation with regards to technology using this patented invention.
In my opinion, I believe that patents are necessary and should definitely be granted, but I do understand the counter argument for them. I believe that we should recognize the invention of a person or group of people and grant them a patent on their invention since they were the sole proprietors of said invention. Not doing so seems wrong to me which is why I believe that patents should be granted. I do understand that issuing these patents to restrict the use of the invention to the patent holder will hinder innovation and stop this line of invention at the patented product, however, I feel that there are much more inventions to be created beyond the patented inventions right now. Because of this, entrepreneurs will look at this and deduce that, if they can come up with a useful, practical invention that is not already patented, they can profit from it. And due to the fact that they hold the patent and are the sole person able to sell it, use it and make it, they would be reaping all of the benefits from their product. That fact, I believe, will spur innovation into realms we currently do not have any patented products in.
Where I believe that patent law gets tricky is on individual pieces of software. The purpose of software is for it to be deployed to many people so that it can make a process more efficient and easier to do. However, the definition of patents state that the patent holder must be the only person to use the invention, or else it is a breach of patent law. This presents a contradiction, one which I am not sure how to fix.
With regards to “patent trolls” I believe that this does not show that the patent system is broken, but that there is room for improvement to restrict these unethical people from doing just that. According to the readings, a patent troll is someone who uses patents as “legal weapons” and buys up patents from failing companies in order to attempt to sue a booming company for patent infringement. This is clearly wrong and needs to be addressed by the patent system.
Automation is greatly impacting employment in the United States and abroad. According to the readings, we are seeing automation impact how jobs are completed and the sheer numbers of jobs available in many regions of the country. One of the most publicized areas affected by this implementation of automation is the Rust Belt and jobs in manufacturing. While trade and outsourcing have also been seen as potential reasons that these areas are seeing a dip in numbers, a recent study has shown that up to 87% of the jobs lost in manufacturing are due to automation and computing taking over jobs previously manned by human beings. However, another recent study shows that the areas that may be most affected by automation in the long run are food preparation, office and administrative support, and sales. The regions of the country that could be most affected by this are Las Vegas, San Bernardino, El Paso, Orlando and Louisville.
In terms of the economic impact of this automation sweeping across the nation, there are both positives and negatives. In terms of positives, we will see more profitable companies as automation will be a one time charge and less expensive than manpower in the long run. As we have seen recently, companies have been giving out larger bonuses to their employees in the wake of tax breaks and increasing profit from automation. However, the negatives are obvious. More automation will lead to more unemployment in these areas since automation will make manpower previously holding these positions redundant. In terms of the political impact, we have already seen that. In the previous election, President Trump reached out to people in this area to try and swing states, especially those in the Rust Belt. President Trump reached out to these people to make sure they were not going to be forgotten and left behind, even though automation has been sweeping across the region.
With regards to whether or not I am comfortable with artificial intelligence performing more human tasks, I would say that I am, but only up to a certain point. While I do think that artificial intelligence can be used in certain situations, we need to draw a line and still have a need for humans to do work in the working place. In places like finance, home improvement, and driving, artificial intelligence can be and maybe should be used as it will make companies and processes more efficient. However, in the areas given, such as caregiving, creating artistic works, and making life or death decisions in the health industry, I believe that the “human touch” should be present. In my opinion, these are not places that this efficiency that automation and artificial intelligence offers are needed. In caregiving, especially with infants, the human touch that is given by having humans take care of infants is needed as they will learn from their caregivers. In creating artistic works, while artificial intelligence can learn how to do this, it will never be able to be creative and creativity is what is needed most in this field. And for making life or death decisions in the health industry, we will also need a human that has spent their entire life dedicated towards the health industry should be making this decision and not a piece of artificial intelligence coded up by someone who will not have that same experience.
The term “fake news” can be described as news that is swayed or biased by some type of motives, which most recently has been politically, to fit some type of narrative. We have seen a lot of recent “fake news” with regards to politicians on both sides of the aisle and has been omnipresent ever since President Trump donned the term during his campaign for the 2016 presidency. In the recent years and months, we have seen a deluge of this so-called “fake news” with many in the media reporting the news that they want to hear or somehow swinging the news to fit the narrative that their political party wants to portray. Personally, I find this both annoying and potentially dangerous going forward. I find it annoying because, when I look at news, I want to be able to trust the news that I am reading and don’t want to have to question whether or not the news being reported is actually factual or whether or not it is being skewed or swayed to fit some sort of narrative. I also see it as potentially dangerous as there could be no end in sight for this new “fake news” deluge. As of right now, we are mostly looking at “fake news” in the political space, but there is the potential that it could spread to other spaces and make much more of an impact in the world. And even if it were to stay in the political space, it could greatly sway the general public’s point of view of a candidate.
Speaking of that, we have already seen that play out on a lower scale in the 2016 Presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In the lead up to this election, news displayed on sites such as Facebook was completely polarized. Those that were classified by Facebook as liberal, were only shown news that Facebook thought fit their political views and the same went for those that Facebook classified as conservative. Because of this, people thought that the news that the other political party was reporting was “fake news” and shouldn’t be trusted at all. This only played into the new reality that our country is becoming more politically polarized than ever and bipartisan thinking and cooperation in our government becoming increasingly more difficult. One large piece of news that seemed to have an impact on the 2016 election was the report that Russian hacking largely swayed the election in the favor of now President Trump. For liberals, this was the reason why Hillary Clinton lost and for conservatives, this was “fake news” spread by the left in the wake of Clinton’s defeat. In reality, this is somewhere in the middle and, as shown by an article I had read found here: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-much-did-russian-interference-affect-the-2016-election/, it was shown that this Russian hacking most likely had no measurable effect on the 2016 election. This piece of news and others like it is why I believe that we should be trying to “snuff out” this “fake news” because it can lead to increasing polarization in politics and can greatly impact the way people think about the world.
Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers must treat all the data on the internet equally and cannot discriminate or enforce speed regulations against individual consumers, websites, platforms or methods of communication. In other words, without net neutrality, internet service providers could now offer “bundles” similar to how television providers do for packages of channels on television.
The arguments for net neutrality are surrounded by the fact that internet should be a “public service” and that we should not restrict access or speed to anybody or for any individual website. This argument also brings up the fact that there could be an uneven playing field as smaller companies may not be able to pay these large fees to internet service providers to ensure that their websites do not fall prey to slow speeds. The arguments against net neutrality include an argument that, by revoking net neutrality, innovation will increase as the free market will take over and companies will now be driven to innovate in order to separate themselves from other companies on the internet. Also, those against net neutrality raise questions regarding over-regulation by the government and claim that the free market will do a much better job in regulating the internet than government could. In my opinion, while I do not feel very strongly either way, I believe that we should not have net neutrality and that it should have been repealed. However, while I do lean more towards not having net neutrality, I do see and understand the issues brought up by those who are in favor of it.
Personally, I do not believe that net neutrality is necessary and that our internet could be better off without it. As I have already stated, we have already seen how this “bundle” or “package” based internet could play out, as television has been doing this same exact business model for decades. Some users could pay extra for packages that include HBO, Starz or Showtime because the base cable package does not come with these services. I also believe that, with internet being totally regulated by the free market, innovation will increase as companies now have more incentive to compete for internet traffic against their competitors. In response to issues regarding providing a level playing field or discrimination against internet service providers, I would argue that internet giants will always have a “leg up” on smaller businesses, but that might not necessarily be a bad thing. With these giants being favored by internet service providers for paying large amounts of money to the providers to include high speeds on their websites, this could open up avenues of innovation for smaller companies to find other ways to compete with these giants. These companies might not be able to compete monetarily with these giants, but they can try and find other ways to compete and open up other avenues of innovation.
I do not believe that the internet is a “public service and fair access should be a basic right”. Again, I believe that this is similar to what the television model has been for decades and, with different bundles of cable offering different package, all television channels are not a basic right for everyone. I believe that the internet should take this type of model and that it will be for the better. I believe this because I have more trust in the free market being able to regulate the internet better than the government can.
Corporate personhood is the notion that all companies, separate from their workers, are, to some extent, treated as people in the eyes of the law and can enjoy some of the same rights and responsibilities as individual human beings can as well. This obviously has legal ramifications as companies can have the same rights and responsibilities as individual people, so they can enter into contracts with other corporations or they can sue other people or corporations. The social ramifications of this notion is that, in the eyes of the people, there is a question whether or not we should view the actions of corporations differently than the actions of individual people. Should there be a difference in the way we view the actions of corporations and individual people if the two can, to some extent, be seen in the same light in the legal world? The ethical ramifications are very similar, should corporations and individual people be viewed different with regards to the ethical aftermath of their actions.
With regards to the Muslim Registry database, I believe that workers can decide to withhold their work on a project based on their own personal moral and ethical beliefs. However, I believe that, while they may personally hold out their work on a project they do not agree with morally, it may not make an impact on the project at all. This is because the company, if they continue to believe that it is in the best interest of the company, will just find someone else that is willing to work on the project to take up that spot in the project. Overall, individual workers holding out their work will not make an impact and therefore, I believe that workers should find other ways to speak out against projects or ideas instead of holding out on working on these projects. With regards to whether or not companies should make decisions based on ethical or moral views, I believe that this should be taken into consideration, but should not be the end all be all for every decision that is made. This is because, especially publicly traded companies, companies have a responsibility to their shareholders to do what is right for the company in terms of returns to their shareholders. Now obviously I believe that companies should not do things that are extremely immoral or go against the company’s views entirely just for money, but I also do not believe that ethical and moral views should make the entire decision.
While companies and corporations are afforded the same rights as individual people, I do not believe that they should be expected to have the same exact moral and ethical responsibilities. While this is not saying that companies should have no moral and ethical responsibilities, I think that companies should have more leeway than individuals since companies have people that they need to look out for. Companies have employees, customers and shareholders that rely upon the companies and, in many cases, their livelihoods rest on how the company does. If a situation presents itself that may be in the “gray area” of ethics, but would prove a huge success for the company and the people relying upon the company, then the company must weigh these factors before making a decision. This is exactly what companies must do in the “Muslim Registry” issue. Due to the easily accessible nature of this data, this act would lie in that “gray area” and a company must weigh this before taking on a contract.
With regards to companies collecting information about our online and even offline habits, I believe that it is totally within reason for companies to be able to do this and is not unethical at all. Personally, I have no issue with companies collecting my data to try and put personalized advertisements on the websites that I use and would actually much prefer this than if a company didn’t collect data and just put generic advertisements on their site. In reality, companies rely heavily on advertisements for their revenue streams and, especially for online social media sites that are free, advertisements may be their primary way of making money. In light of this, I believe that companies, especially public companies, are morally responsible to their shareholders to make money and, if advertisements are the company’s main way of making money, then they are totally within their reason to put advertisements on their site and, as I previously said, I would much rather have advertisements for things that I like and am more likely to buy than for things that I would never buy. In this world, we must submit to the fact that advertisements on websites are going to happen, so why not have advertisements for things we actually like than for things we would never buy on our most frequented websites. Now, this belief is based upon the fact that companies are keeping your data safe and not using this data for malicious means. As long as my data is being kept safe and within the company who’s service I am using, I have no issues with the company using my data for targeted and personal advertisements. I would also like to address one of the gripes that The Atlantic article has with personal data collection: the fact that there are surveillance cameras filming in restaurants or public streets and credit card tracking that will track your credit card purchases. Personally, I have very close ties to both Boston and New York City, and will be living and working after college in the surrounding greater Manhattan area, and have seen the benefits that this surveillance has. Take, for example, the Boston Marathon bombing. The Boston Police Department and FBI would not have had a credible lead unless the camera along Boylston Street had caught one of the bombers placing down his backpack in the crowd and then walking away before remote detonating the bomb. Imagine if we did not have this camera there and, perhaps, had not caught the bombers before, as it was reported, they made their way to New York City for yet another attack. Federal officials and police departments also use credit card tracking to try and track down suspects to see where they are in the country or out of the country. I don’t personally understand the reasoning of people that have an issue with this because, if you are doing nothing wrong, then what is the downside of having cameras filming public streets or having your credit card purchases tracked? These two means of surveillance are used by federal officials or police departments for tracking down suspects and the normal citizen should realize the good these means of surveillance gives us and not gripe with it.
After completing these readings and in my opinion, I fully believe that Edward Snowden is a traitor. To that end, I believe that the US Government should wholeheartedly pursue extradition to try him for his crimes against the United States and our allies. In Snowden’s working with the CIA, he had access to many classified documents and programs that our government was employing to keep both the United States and our allies safe from terrorism and other threats. With Snowden leaking information regarding the NSA and CIA collecting data from the public in order to scan for threats and attempting to gain a better understanding of the people of this world, this operation is now completely useless. This operation would now be completely useless because, with its running now public knowledge, the people that this operation was intended to monitor will now not communicate over these channels and might now not pop up in the US intelligence agencies’ radar. Through his exposing of this information to the media, the people that the United States want to monitor might not be seen now. Putting aside the legality of leaking this sensitive and classified information to the media, I do not believe that what Snowden did was ethical or moral. I believe that because of the role he played in the CIA and the information that he had access to while he spent time at the CIA. He had direct access to sensitive and classified information that our government was using to try and keep us and our allies safe and undermined our government’s attempt at doing that by letting the general public know about our covert and classified operations geared towards keeping our citizens and the citizens of our allies safe. I believe that this is completely and wholeheartedly wrong and neither ethical or moral. Because of these actions, he has undermined our intelligence agencies’ classified operations and, potentially, put our citizens and our allies in harm’s way. With these covert operations remaining covert, we may have been able to detect possible signs or rumors of an attack on our country, but now with this operation being public knowledge, this possibility has gone by the wayside as the people that could have potentially committed this attack would not use these channels of communication anymore due to the possibility that their covert attack would be uncovered by our intelligence agencies. In releasing this information about our intelligence agencies to the public, Snowden has potentially put American citizens in harm’s way and allowed an avenue for a surprise attack on our country. Obviously, putting American citizens, and the citizens of our allies, in harm’s way and exposing them to potential terrorist attacks is not ethical or moral and is detrimental to the public. For anyone trying to argue that Snowden is a hero, I would like you to consider the possibility that our intelligence agencies do not pick up a potential terrorist attack that may have been picked up through these leaked spy programs and think about the loss of life that could have been saved. This is why our classified programs need to stay that way.
From the readings regarding Boeing’s handling of their computer security employees and the ensuing whistleblowers, it seems as if Boeing’s interactions with their computer security employees was not ethical. As the readings stated several times, the two whistleblowers were “trying to save the company” and also looking out for the best interest of the shareholders of Boeing, as the data and privacy of Boeing’s clients would be in grave danger under the current circumstances. I believe that Boeing could have handled this situation better. If I were one of these potential whistleblowers, I would have gone to the company first and spoken to my manager or another higher-up about the potential computer and data security issues that I had found, and I believe that most people would do the same. If these whistleblowers did this, and were still told that Boeing would not be doing anything about the issue, then Boeing is completely at fault and these whistleblowers were ethical in their decision to go public about this potentially disastrous issue. I believe this because I believe that ethically we must look out for the general public and for the stakeholders in any product that we oversee at our occupation. These employees were doing just that in finding and reporting an issue that would compromise the safety and privacy of a great number of people. They were ethically responsible in reporting this to their higher ups and making sure that there were other people in the company that knew about this issue. However, if they did not report this issue to other individuals within Boeing and instead went straight to the media, then I believe that this is completely unethical by these whistleblowers. I believe that, while this issue is definitely very problematic, the company should have at least had a chance to fix this issue without anyone outside of the company knowing and also leaving a very shady reputation about both the company and the computer security department. If these whistleblowers did go straight to the media and the Seattle PI report was the first that both the company and the computer security department had heard about this issue, then I believe that Boeing was completely in their right to fire these two employees as they did not have a chance to fix an issue with their system without these two employees relaying this to the media. With regards to whether these two employees should be protected under the Whistleblower protection laws set in place, I believe that the same issue should be looked at. I believe that if the company was aware of this issue and still said that they did not want to fix the issue, then I believe that these whistleblowers should be protected under these laws. I also believe that if the company was unaware and not given the opportunity to fix this issue, then I believe that these employees should not have been protected under the Whistleblower protection laws and that Boeing was entirely within their right to fire them.
While I do believe that diversity is important, I believe that the recent focus on diversity is a little bit overblown and diversity should only be important up until a certain extent. I believe diversity is important in solving problems because different viewpoints and ways of looking at problems can lead to solving problems that may not have been solved if there was not diversity within the problem solvers. This is extremely important because it will allow companies to be able to solve problems that they may not have otherwise. Having people from different backgrounds will allow for different ways of solving problems and can lead to an overall better program. This is why I believe that diversity is important, but I also believe that the recent focus on diversity is too much and that diversity should never be the sole focus for deciding on whether or not to hire a candidate. I believe that, recently, there has been this focus on diversity because companies will be ostracized if they do not publish higher and higher diversity numbers. I believe that once this wave of diversity focus started, it became impossible for it to stop as companies can be shamed or ostracized by the general public for not putting this same focus on diversity that other companies are at the same time. As a result of this, we have seen a lot of companies starting to offer internships and job programs specifically for women and minorities as they look to give this demographic a specific avenue to be able to get into their company. However, I believe that this is unfair and should not be a common practice by companies. While I do understand the point of view coming from this demographic that says there could be a bias against them in the general hiring pool, I believe that gender and race should not be considered at all when hiring. This again goes back to my belief that technology and all industries actually should be hiring based solely off of merit and that hiring diversity for diversity’s sake is wrong. Companies should be hiring the best candidates and have a duty and responsibility to their employees and stockholders to be hiring the best possible candidates at every hiring cycle. If a company is willing to sacrifice quality in their new hires to solely hire a person of a specific demographic, then I believe that this is wrong. This also would include hiring the demographic that everyone assumes gets this benefit of the doubt, and I believe that hiring white men just because they are a white man is completely wrong and the best candidates should always be hired. This is why I believe that these diversity programs are wrong because, I believe, there should be one hiring pool where race and gender are not looked at and the only thing that is looked at is the quality of your candidacy and whether or not you would fit into the culture of the company. Hiring someone for any other reason is wrong in my opinion and should not be a common practice.