Reading01:The Nature of Computer Science

Computer Science is neither an art nor engineering discipline, and while it is most similar to a science discipline even this is not exactly accurate. Computer Science is definitely not an artistic discipline. Artistic disciplines suggest that the end product is for purely creative purposes. Though computer science can be used in artistic ways, such as creating a film, video game, or modern song, computer science is more the vehicle rather than the process itself. Computer Science is also not arbitrary like artistic disciplines often are. Painting can either be very picture accurate or a colorful square and both are just as valid pieces of art. However, in computer science a well made algorithm is valid, but simplistic poorly written code is objectively worse and cannot just be appreciated as a different way of practicing Computer Science. Computer science is also not an engineering discipline because it does not have the strict structure of traditional engineering disciplines. When a civic engineer designs and builds a bridge, if there is a problem they cannot simply send out a bug a week later with a message that says the problem is fixed now. If a civic engineer has a problem with their bridge it could cause millions of dollars of damage not to mention the possible loss of life. For this reason there is a much stricter training structure to become an engineer in the classical sense. Any person who knows how to program, no matter their experience or level of schooling could be considered a computer scientist. Ian Bogost mentions that there are four years of upper level schooling and a number of years of experience under a registered engineer before a new engineer can be considered a professional engineer. None of this is true for computer scientists. Computer Science is more similar to a scientific discipline. In scientific disciplines there are very few laws only theories that can be disproven if enough evidence is found contrary to them. While most of the theories are so widely accepted they are basically laws, this is also true of computer science. While computer science has very few rules that programmers must abide by, there are many accepted structures used to make programming easier. These are generally the programming languages or larger structures, such as object oriented programming, that computer scientists will use to optimize code. Scientific disciplines are however different than computer science in that they tend to try to understand and discover the nature of the world while computer science is a discipline that largely supports its own development. Computer Science is not discovering anything but instead is inventing new ideas. Overall, Computer science is not like art or engineering at all, due to the creative principles of art and the structure and rigidity of the engineering discipline. While Computer Science is similar to science in the use of theories and rules, it is also very different because science exists to discover more about the world where computer science exists to innovate itself. I think Computer Science is a new discipline independent from any of the more traditional academic disciplines.

Reading 00: Morality

When I try to determine if something were right or wrong my first course of action is to ask myself if I would like if that was done to me. Would I like it if that was said to me, or if it was done to me etc. I feel like this is a good place to start when considering if an action is right or wrong. It makes the action more personal and makes me take into account the perspective of the other side. This however, is only a first step, if I am not sure about if an action is right or wrong by asking if I would want it to happen to me, because maybe it does not apply, I then ask societally if it is considered right or wrong. There are very few things that cannot be defined as right or wrong, or at least find a discussion about the ethics of an action from a societal perspective. There is however a lot of overlap between the two ways I determine if an action is right or wrong. This is because I have grown up in society and my standard of beliefs are a reflection of the society I grew up in to a large degree. Then if neither of those two questions provides me with a satisfying answer about the ethics of an action I will assume it is probably wrong, because it is better to be safe than sorry. I feel like if I’m not sure if I would want something to happen to me, and society does not have a conclusive stance one way or the other on the action, it is better to be on the safe side. I feel that if I am able to put myself into the shoes of the other side of the issue and conclusively state whether or not I believe that action is for right or wrong, I can feel much better about my decision. This is largely because society, despite having opinions on almost every topic rarely has unanimous agreement on moral or ethical issues. If I can say myself I also do not rely on the opinions of others who I don’t know to make ethical decisions for me. Something that I also consider when I’m asking myself if I would be upset if an action occurred to me I also have to consider that people are different. So while I may be perfectly fine with being called a name or being mildly insulted others may take much more offense. It is these situations societies opinion is important to the question. When I think that personal opinion may play a part in the ethics of an action, I try to consider it not from my own perspective but as a general member of society. Then I am better able to say if an action is right or wrong. Overall I think the best way to determine if an action is right or wrong is to take a personal perspective of the issue from the other side. This would be the quickest and easiest way to determine the ethics of an issue. Despite society attempting to outline the ethics and morals of all people it is the responsibility of the individual to make the final decision regarding their own actions and their morality.

Reading 00: About Me

I am Computer Science and Film double major, who enjoys film and the process of making the film. I’m studying Computer Science in order to work in the film industry working on special effects and CGI for movies. Films are a passion of mine and being able work in the film industry is a dream of mine. It is for this reason I am a Film and Computer Science major, to further my ambition to work on films using my computer science knowledge. From this class I hope to better understand the ethics of technology. A lot of emerging technology has very interesting ethical questions behind it. From self driving cars to Artificial Intelligence each has their own interesting ethical questions to delve into. The question of how self drivings cars should prioritize life, as in if a car could not stop should it run into a pedestrian or into a wall and kill the driver. It is an interesting ethical question that I am excited to delve into. Another interesting topic to consider is Artificial Intelligence, what is it to be alive? Is an Artificial Intelligence considered alive? If it is what does that mean for programmers? Should the people who build an artificial intelligence be responsible for it to a greater degree than they would be for normal code? Ethics are an interesting question to consider in terms of programming. I hope to have a better understanding of how to approach a lot of the ethical issues surrounding programming that I may not have considered before now. There are even ethical concerns when considering computer science and its use in the film and entertainment industry. As computer graphics get better and out ability to replicate the real world improves there will be more and more questions that have to be considered about what should actually be made with computer graphics. Already there is push back to advances in computer graphics as seen in the response to Peter Cushing’s computer graphic appearance in Star Wars Rogue One. Industrial Light and Magic used state of the art motion capture and computer graphics software to create a real to life representation of Peter Cushing despite Cushing having died in 1997. Industrial Light and Magic with the full consent and support of Cushing’s estate, however, the practice still raised concerns about the ethics of cgi representation of dead actors. Further in the entertainment industry the improvement of Virtual Reality and the possibility of it being used as a substitute for real world interaction and living is something that must be considered. Virtual Reality is only in its infancy but already the potential for it to be misused are obvious. Further with hyper realistic computer graphics and improved virtual reality coming in the relatively near future. A world that looks real and can be interacted with as though it were real but is not real is an ethical dilemma that must be addressed in the near future. Overall I am looking forward to discovering and exploring the ethics of cutting edge technology.