Writing 09

When comparing intellectual property and physical property, we have to keep in mind that while intellectual property is a creation of the mind, such as inventions and literary works, and physical property is more tangible like an object, they are both properties that we can own. There’s no reason to provide less protection for intellectual properties just because we cannot physically own it. In fact, intellectual property should be afforded equal if not more protection than physical property from how valuable ideas and innovations are.

One protection that we have in place for intellectual property is patents. They are definitely necessary to have for society because we need a way to incentivize and reward people for their innovative ideas. If we did not have them in place, others could steal people’s ideas, which could hurt the person who came up with the idea and discourage people from coming up with new ideas. So in that sense, patents are beneficial for providing protection towards innovation, but there are still issues that need to be dealt with the patent system. One such issue is the existence of patent trolls, who abuse the patent system by targeting companies that in the patent trolls’ perspective are violating one or more of their many ambiguous patents. In order to deal with the disruption the patent trolls are causing, patents should be very specific in the invention that it is protecting, meaning that it should not overlap with inventions that have already been made and be very explicit in the details that make the idea warrant the patent. Furthermore, to prevent the patent trolls from collecting several patents to threaten vulnerable companies, having some kind of regulation that ensures that any buyers of patents must have a legitimate reason for acquiring one should be met.

Although we have a few intellectual property laws in place in society already, such as copyrights, people find ways to game the system through illegal means, like pirating. Of course, pirating copyrighted material is unethical, but if a consumer already purchased a copy of one but lost the copy somehow, then perhaps it would be justified to re-download the material rather than having to rebuy it again. In most cases, however, we should avoid having to pirate copyrighted works. Even if users want to “sample” or “test” copyrighted material, it does not justify pirating because it is difficult to determine whether the user is actually just trying out the material or intends to use the full version. In fact, we should stay away from pirating as it not only hurts the company producing the copyrighted material but also injures innovation since companies would be less inclined to produce quality products if users are not bringing in revenue for their copyrighted materials.

Currently, the laws that we have in place for intellectual property is sufficient to maintain innovation, but there are loopholes within the system that still need to be fixed. With stricter regulation on intellectual property, individuals and companies that we depend on to deliver useful products and services can thrive with better regulation and further improve the quality of innovation for society.

Writing 08

In this modern era, technology is evolving faster than ever, and it has reached a point where we have been able to build computer systems that can perform with human intelligence, which we now know as artificial intelligence. With artificial intelligence being one of the hottest and fastest growing areas in technology, we need to be prepared for what’s to come from it, whether it should be something to be embraced or feared. I think the answer is both; artificial intelligence is something that we should accept in order to thrive as a human race and also be cautious of so that it does not overtake our society. So far, some of the big artificial intelligence creations in the past few years have been AlphaGo, Deep Blue, Watson, and AlphaZero. While these AI have been able to prove that they have exceeded human intelligence in specific tasks, they still have limitations in what they can do compared to a human. Nevertheless, their superhuman intelligence is indisputable and definitely can aid us in various problems and help us learn new things that we couldn’t have thought on our own. There are popular tests to measure the intelligence of these AI systems, such as the Turing Test and the Chinese Room. These tests show that AI that pass these tests demonstrate intelligence similar to a human, but a common counterargument is that while AI can display intelligent behavior, it is merely an imitation of human intelligence. Even though I don’t believe AI doesn’t currently truly reflect human intelligence, it is useful enough if it can behave like one by passing the tests. So then at what point could artificial intelligence be considered completely reflective of human intelligence? Although it seems absurd to think that computers will ever be exactly the same as us, there has been extensive research going on in connectomics that suggests that if we can map the connections going on in our brain in a computer, then perhaps computer systems won’t be too far off of normal human behavior. Because things such as emotions and moral decisions come from the brain, a complete replication of the brain would mean that it would be possible for computer systems to have a mind of a human as well. That would mean humans, despite our extremely complicated organic nervous system, can be reduced to a conglomeration of neural connections that can be represented by a computer if we can successfully map those complex connections. But thinking of the impact of AI and automation in our society, we know that it can do good things for us, like delivering packages and taking orders at restaurants, for instance. We would not have to waste human labor to do the kind of mindless tasks and instead use our skills in more important tasks where human intuition matters more. Yet, the transition to implement AI and automation into our society will undoubtedly hurt those whose jobs are being replaced by robots and machines. This is why we should take the implementation of AI into society with caution so that we can minimize the human losses while yielding the most benefit from AI. Ultimately, I do believe in the hype of AI because combining human intuition with computer intelligence can help us to further innovation and live our lives more efficiently.

Writing 07

So far in the Internet, there aren’t too many restrictions on our freedom of speech; we can say what we want to say online, and we generally won’t be punished for what we post or even what we browse. Recently, however, there has been more pressure to integrate censorship and content regulation into the Internet to control what we can do online. In order to determine to what extent online regulation is acceptable, if at all, we need to consider what the Internet really is and what basic rights that we have online. In its simplest form, the Internet is just a huge conglomeration of networks that people can access from their devices. As a client, the middle-man that provides us access to the wide range of services on the Internet is our Internet Service Provider, or ISP. Few years ago, there was a law that was passed to enforce fair access for everyone, which is the ISP’s responsibility. After Trump’s election, however, it was revoked so that the ISP had freedom to control the traffic, such as throttling and creating fast lanes. While the ISPs currently may not be abusing their freedom, too much deregulation of the government could allow the ISPs to become extremely powerful and completely control the Internet, which would be an inconvenience for both tech companies as well as the consumers. Therefore, there should be some sort of regulation by the government to ensure that not all the power is transferred over to the gatekeepers of the Internet. Going back to the idea of content regulation and restriction, there should also be some kind of regulation on that. Some content are indisputably inappropriate or disrespectful and have no reason to be discussed or browsed on the Internet. As discussed in class, it may be necessary for people to be aware of such topics, but they shouldn’t actively participate in them. In order to make the Internet safer and acceptable to all audiences, there should be a combination of regulation and an effort on the user to not participate in sensitive or inappropriate areas of the Internet. Then, the question is, who gets to decide what content is regulated on the Internet? There are two primary agents that could be involved: the government and private companies. In my opinion, the private companies should be the one deciding what content should or should not be regulated on the Internet. If the government gets to decide, then not everyone would agree with their definition of what content should be regulated or censored. On the other hand, leaving up to the private companies means that if their consumers don’t agree with the regulations and censorship implemented by a specific company, the consumer can just avoid using the company’s service and look for another one. Ultimately, I am not too worried about the online censorship problem because the topics that advocates of censorship are supporting are primarily inappropriate or disrespectful ones, which I did not want to participate in anyway, let alone explore the contents. So even if some agent decides to enact online censorship, I would be fine with it as long as the content that is being censored is backed by some justification in which its presence is unnecessary on the Internet.

Writing 06

If corporations are afforded the same rights as individual persons, then they should obviously be expected to have the same ethical and moral obligations and responsibilities as individual persons. Corporations shouldn’t be able to enjoy the liberties and rights of humans and not be expected to behave ethically and morally as us. It was proven in several court cases that corporations, as they are recognized as a group of individuals, that they deserve basic human rights, which implies that they should also be obligated to behave with good morals and ethics since they are simply a group of people. In the case of IBM’s partnership with the Nazis, we saw an example of a corporation doing business with an unethical group of people. Using the same logic that corporations are rewarded with rights as individual persons and have an obligation to behave morally, IBM clearly should not have aided a group that was torturing and killing millions of innocent lives. No amount of profit should have justified this partnership with the Nazis; yet, the fact that IBM valued making money over ethical obligations suggests that they were clearly in the wrong in this case. Instead, IBM should have based their business decision on morality and ethics and confidently declined the partnership with the Nazis. So going back to the idea that corporations are just a group of individuals, everyone who is a part of the corporation should have a say in what is a right or wrong decision. A corporation is not just one person or made of few important board members; it encompasses everyone who is involved in the corporation. It makes more sense to say that if a corporation is a group of individuals that it should make a collective decision that is supported by the majority rather than a few higher-ups making all the decisions that may not be agreed by many, although it may not be actually applied in practice. Additionally, there should be limits that should be placed on how competitive a corporation can be. Generally, competition is a good thing because it drives corporations to develop better technology than their competitors in order to survive, which pushes innovation to new heights. However, corporations forcefully destroying their competitors to get the upper hand is not permissible. For instance, the competition between Microsoft and Netscape was very controversial because Microsoft specifically targeted Netscape’s browser and tried to take it down. Even though Netscape had the early lead in the browser war, Microsoft exploited its Windows monopoly by excluding Netscape’s browser on the operating system and integrating their own browser, Internet Explorer, not giving Netscape a chance to have its browser available to their consumers. This type of competition shouldn’t be allowed because it prohibits corporations to even try to compete with the top. In fact, this approach would eventually lead to some corporation becoming a monopoly, which would lower the incentive to further innovation because the corporation who has the monopoly wouldn’t have to worry about other corporations overthrowing its position. Therefore, there should be some sort of government intervention to regulate the competition to make it fair for all corporations to have a chance at competing.

Writing 05

The line between individual privacy and national security is quite ambiguous because they are difficult to compare. On one hand, individual privacy is a right that everyone should have. On the other hand, national security is a responsibility of the government to protect us from any national threat. Both are important in their own right, but more things need to be considered before deciding which is more paramount in a democracy.

In this modern era, many of our daily activities involve interacting with technology. For instance, when we walk to class, we go on our phones and listen to music or text our friends, and outside of class, we go on our laptops to do homework or browse through YouTube. We leave behind such a big digital footprint without really thinking that this data can be collected and analyzed by others. Due to the evolution of technology, the idea of “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s novel, 1984, is now a reality. More specifically, the government now has the technology to secretly observe our online activities in order to protect us from certain threats, like the Big Brother from 1984. While this is a legitimate concern, we should learn to accept it as this is just an inevitability; the choice is not up to us but to the government. As a democratic nation, however, the government should be responsible for balancing privacy and security. In my opinion, the government should be allowed to secretly collect our data online, as long as they are using it to maintain national security. For us, if we are not doing anything illegal, we shouldn’t have to worry about having our data be used by the government. We wouldn’t be punished as long as we are not doing anything wrong, and the government wouldn’t be exposing any personal information on social media or to the public. Furthermore, not much is asked for on our end; the government is doing all the work to protect us while we can go about our lives and not have to worry about contributing to security. The fact that the government is constantly observing our online activities is indeed disturbing and uncomfortable, but it seems like the benefit of security that the government provides us outweighs the importance of our privacy. Technology companies, on the other hand, don’t necessarily have an obligation to contribute to national security. They were founded on a common dream to empower us with technology so that we can live a more convenient and comfortable life. To them, the interests of their consumers are what they value most, so they should prioritize privacy above security. If the technology companies had to yield their consumer data to the government for the sake of security, people would feel their data would be exposed and can’t be trusted by those companies, so they would stop using their products or services. As a result, it would not only hurt technology companies but also technological innovation, which thrives from people’s trust in technology. Therefore, valuing privacy is not just about protecting people’s information but also helping to build trust and growth in technology.

Both individual privacy and national security are important aspects to society. However, it appears that each bears more significance depending on who is the agent. For the government, it is of their best interest to pursue national security for the people while for technology companies, protecting their consumers’ identity outweighs the importance of national security. So, if the issue of privacy and security is considered in the context of democracy, national security may have the slight edge over individual privacy.

Writing 04

Of the whistleblowing cases that we’ve looked at, not much good has come out of whistleblowing. Generally, when a whistleblowing incident occurs, the whistleblower gets punished, and the public perceives a bad image of the organization whose secret has been exposed. Despite the negative consequences, some people may still believe it is justified to whistleblow if an organization tries to cover up engineering disasters. In our journey of innovation, we are bound to run into failures when we explore something new; there is always risk involved in engineering. We can try to rush to build something new but risk of running into disaster. On the other hand, if we spend too much effort into testing, we will never make much progress. There is no perfect algorithm that computes the optimal amount of risk acceptance, but we can always learn from our mistakes. In the Therac-25 and the Challenger Space Shuttle cases, these incidents occurred because people pushed the bounds of risk too far, but we can take these mistakes and adjust our risk acceptance accordingly to avoid running into these types of engineering disasters again. In terms of whether engineers are obligated to speak the truth, I think it really depends on the situation. If we consider the Manning case, whistleblowing had unfavorable consequences. Leaking the footage of innocent civilians being killed not only caused Manning to be punished and sentenced to jail but also hurt the image of the government. With the evidence from the footage, it is indisputable that the military did commit an immoral act, but it is just a single instance that shouldn’t reflect the image of the entire organization. As a whole, the government is just doing its best for the people of America, and it is unfair to let a single fault to tarnish the image entire organization and lose the trust of its people over an operation in which only a few people of the government and military were involved. In general, I think it is best for engineers to not immediately speak out the truth, unless it is justified. Although Manning’s case was not truly justified for whistleblowing, there are some cases in which whistleblowing is considered necessary. For example, if an organization was secretly condoning unethical practices, contrary to the image that the public sees it by, then the person who discovers this information should be responsible for reporting it by following the correct whistleblowing procedures. Even though the whistleblower would most likely lose his or her job in the process, it would be a worthy sacrifice for saving the people who were impacted by the organization’s unethical practices. Ultimately, the difference between this scenario and the Manning case, for instance, is based on the behavior of the organization. If the organization is inherently bad and the public did not know about it, then whistleblowing would be absolutely justified, maybe even an obligation. If, however, an organization were involved in an unethical operation that was not approved by higher-ups, whistleblowing should be ignored for the sake of upholding the image of the organization. Therefore, whistleblowing is good only when the exposure of the organization’s secrets outweighs the damage inflicted on the organization.

Writing 03

In the computing and technology industry, many see diversity as an issue in the computing and technology community. But what does diversity mean, what does perfect diversity look like? After giving it some thought, diversity, in my opinion, is the equal representation of all groups in a community such that there is no majority or minority. Obviously, achieving such a state of diversity is almost an impossible task, but we can still make efforts to pursue it. While striving for diversity is good for helping out the underrepresented groups in a community, we shouldn’t mindlessly follow it without first understanding its purpose. The point of diversity is to make minority groups feel more comfortable with other members in the community. It isn’t that we need more diversity, but we need to better pursue the goal of diversity, which is to make everyone feel welcome. In order to make everyone feel truly welcomed in a community, it requires effort from everyone, even from those in underrepresented groups. If everyone looks beyond the race, ethnicity, and gender of each individual in the community and see these individuals as just fellow programmers, then perhaps the situation would change. Minorities wouldn’t be so dependent on needing more members of their own kind to feel welcome, and maybe the lack of diversity wouldn’t be such a big deal.

Everyone knows that the computing and technology community is dominated by males. In my opinion, the reason that women are lacking in number is not because men are better than women but rather due to the strong inclusive image of the computing and technology community. When a Facebook recruiter visited Notre Dame, one comment that I remember him saying is that even if Facebook accepted all the female candidates who applied, there still wouldn’t be enough female employees to balance out the gender ratio in the company. His comment suggested to me that the problem lies with the male stereotype that defines the engineering community, which, in turn, dissuades women to want to participate in such a community. In order to build a more welcoming and diverse community, the first step is to break down the male dominant image that currently reflects the people in computing and technology. One such idea would be to introduce programming or technology in general to children early in school, emphasizing that it’s for anyone and not just geniuses or even guys. My sister, who was not interested in engineering before, joined Girls Who Code last year and was able to find her passion for coding after joining the club. Clubs like these may be small steps towards diversity, but they are slowly breaking down the stereotypical, male image that has discouraged women and even minorities to pursue a career in computing and technology.

Ultimately, the lack of diversity still remains a problem, but perhaps diversity is not the primary barrier to building a good community. Rather than solely focusing on improving underrepresentation according to demographics, everyone should strive to adopt a good mind and treat others not by their race, ethnicity, or gender but as another programmer like ourselves. Furthermore, with the help of early coding exposure to school students, we can gradually erase the exclusive image of computing and technology communities and welcome anyone who’s interested in joining a one big, happy coding family.


Writing 02

In the tech industry, the hiring process that most companies use to assess potential candidates is not the most efficient approach in selecting new hires or interns. Nowadays, the hiring process adopted by most tech companies generally involves solving coding problems, which I believe is not the best way to assess someone for a software engineering position. Although I disagree with the current approach for hiring, I am forced to yield to what companies are looking for and get better at solving coding challenges. In order to prepare for such a hiring process, my primary source of preparation has been LeetCode. It has the best collection of coding problems that accurately reflect the type of questions that applicants would normally encounter in an assessment or interview. Solving problems in LeetCode during my spare time has tremendously helped me in my preparation for software engineering interviews, especially for the technical sections. During my spare time, I also worked on a personal project, which allowed me to showcase some of my skills and passion to my interviewers. Because I was into video games outside of programming, I decided to create a social media platform for League of Legends. With only a year of experience in programming, building such an application was a great challenge, but I was able to learn so much from it. In my journey, I got to learn about new technologies, like React.js, Node.js, and MongoDB, building a web application from scratch, and deploying my own application on the cloud. Whenever I am asked to share a project that I’ve worked on, I always like to talk about this one because it best reflects my passion for programming. Notre Dame has also played an instrumental role in helping me prepare for the hiring process. Beyond the required courses in the Computer Science curriculum, one class that helped me in particular is Bui’s Programming Challenges class. That class gave me early exposure to technical interview questions by challenging me to apply the concepts that I’ve learned, like data structures and algorithms, to solve problems with code. I don’t think I would have passed some of my interviews if I didn’t take this course.

Despite all this preparation for the hiring process, the work life is completely different than what the interviews assess. Based on my summer internship, my experience had nothing to do with solving coding problems. Instead, I had to participate in several meetings for standup and sprint planning, cooperate with my teammates, and quickly adapt and expand on the already implemented infrastructure. In other words, the key qualities that I found were crucial in thriving in a tech environment were communication, teamwork, and adaptability. If I were running the hiring process, I would relieve the focus on solving coding problems and place more emphasis in personal projects and interaction with other people. Ultimately, I view the overall hiring process of the tech industry to be ethical, but I can’t help to question whether it is an efficient, effective way to measure a candidate’s fit for the position when the actual work entails doing more than just solving coding problems.

Writing 01

What is my identity? I identify myself as a male, Catholic Asian studying Computer Science at the University of Notre Dame. For being an Asian in the technology industry, I face all sorts of stereotypes. One popular stereotype of Asians is that we are all super smart. That may be true for many, but I was not born with the intelligent genes that people expect me to have. I am an average student who has to work hard to get A’s just like everyone else. I do get uncomfortable sometimes when people approach me for help just because I am Asian who probably knows the answer, but like most people, I’m not good at everything and makes me appear as a fool when I don’t know.

Furthermore, I manifest the Notre Dame stereotype in that I am a Catholic student. Before coming into Notre Dame, being a Catholic meant being in the minority as most of the people around me were not. I didn’t proudly identify myself as Catholic, and my faith felt weaker. So for me, subscribing to the Notre Dame stereotype feels relieving because I don’t have to shy about my religion. Surrounded by many who share the same belief, I feel more welcomed by my community, making me proud of my identity.

Attending Notre Dame is a great privilege for me because I not only am around other Catholics like me but also get to receive one of the best education in the United States. Having the opportunity to learn in a prestigious institution that offers great resources and wonderful professors is something that only a few people get to have, and I feel extremely lucky that I get to be in this position in my life. With this education, I was offered a full-time position with a generous salary as a starting software engineer. Almost everyday, I am reminded of how fortunate I am from the people around me. My friends always tell me that not many professions offer as much compensation for recent graduates like this, so being successful in the field of Computer Science means a lot to me. Doing something I enjoy as my primary career while being paid with great salary is a great privilege that I will never forget.

During my time at Notre Dame, I have learned and experienced so many things in such a short period of time. I had the opportunity to learn a wide spectrum of Computer Science, from fundamental concepts to hot topics like machine learning, and get hands-on experience on cool projects during my internships. Yet, I never spent the time to reflect what it really meant to be a Notre Dame Computer Science and Engineering graduate. Now that I am thinking about it, I realize that graduating as a Computer Science major here is special. Unlike most universities, Notre Dame is a Catholic institution, where we follow Catholic values, and as engineers from Notre Dame, we have a responsibility to uphold these values. In this privileged position that I am in, I will do my best to contribute my skills to develop technology that can help and even save people’s lives and maintain a positive mindset that aligns with Catholic values.

Writing 00

When I think about an ethically responsible person, I think of someone who uses his or her power in the right way. The point of controversy is, however, what defines the right course of action. Many agree on the fundamental rules in ethics, but there are situations in which the right decision is ambiguous. Among the many ethical, moral, and religious frameworks, I would say Kantian ethics is the best set of guidelines to determine the morality of an action. I believe this framework is best suited to determining whether an action is right or wrong because the maxims that we should follow are universally agreed upon as being morally correct, so there should theoretically be no ambiguity in judging an action. Nevertheless, there are some circumstances in which following universal laws violates other laws. For instance, being honest and telling the truth is generally seen as moral conduct, but if it’s on someone’s private information, then it becomes controversial. I would say in these kinds of situations, the right choice would be the one that causes the least harm to people, similar to the utilitarian framework but only when following a certain law inevitably violates another. In my future career in technology, these kinds of ethical frameworks will guide me to be an ethically responsible software engineer. Whenever I am confronted with difficult choices, I will look to my set of ethical frameworks to help me make the moral decision, ensuring that I continue to adhere to my moral standards.

Throughout my experience at the University of Notre Dame, I have developed a talent to create powerful programs. Although I switched majors from Science Pre-Professional Studies to Computer Science, I have learned to become a good software engineer by assimilating the fundamental concepts in my classes and exploring new technologies outside of school. With this new and powerful talent, I realized that I had the potential to do good or bad things. I knew that I had to be responsible with the knowledge that I had obtained over the past few years. This kind of power is escalated in the technology industry. Big tech companies hold great power to accomplish great things, but at the same time, they are prone to violating core ethical values. The most prevalent issue in the technology industry is privacy. With the resources available today, it is easy for companies to collect data on our personal information. While I do believe it is permissible for them to collect data when absolutely necessary to make our experience with software more convenient, they must be extremely responsible in doing so. Insecurely handling valuable, personal data and distributing private information to third parties are just a few examples of unethical actions that tech companies must absolutely avoid in order to maintain the people’s trust. With only few months left before I enter into the technology industry, I will definitely strive to become an ethically responsible person. Knowing that I will be constantly dealing with sensitive data and the ramifications of mishandling such information, I will be doing my utmost best to follow my ethical values in hopes that others will do the same to minimize the frequency of unjust decisions in the technology industry.