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Social and Economic Impacts of IT Professor Matt Thatcher Today Who am I? Introduction to IT issues and problems Course overview and organization syllabus schedule assignments Course website Frameworks for ethical analysis

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Social and Economic Impacts of IT

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Social and Economic Impacts of IT

Professor Matt Thatcher

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  • Who am I?

  • Introduction to IT issues and problems

  • Course overview and organization

    • syllabus

    • schedule

    • assignments

  • Course website


  • Frameworks for ethical analysis

  • Get your email addresses and pictures

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Who am I?

  • Associate Professor of MIS

  • The Wharton School, University of Penn

    • Ph.D and M.S. in Information Technology / Economics

    • B.S. in Finance and Decision Sciences

  • Research interests

    • economic impact of IT on firms/industry

    • IT value

    • software patent policy design

    • It offshoring

  • Course information



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What Are the Benefits of IT?

  • Computer games

  • Digital technologies (movies, tv, music, library retrieval)

  • Business applications

  • Internet

  • Automobiles and trucks

  • Education and training

  • Crime fighting

  • Health and medicine

  • Tools for the disabled

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What are the Problems, Risks, and Controversies with IT?

  • Information Privacy

    • consumer privacy vs. access to information

    • workplace privacy vs. access to information

    • civil liberties vs. law enforcement

  • Freedom of speech vs. control of content on the internet

  • Intellectual property rights

  • Computer security and computer crimes

  • IT safety and reliability vs. fast market entry

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How Do We Examine These IT Issues?

  • What?

    • what is the description of what is happening? What new technology is being implemented in what context?

  • So what?

    • what are the benefits of the IT and the concerns and problems introduced by the IT? What are the different perspectives in the context?

  • Now what?

    • what are the potential solutions to the problem?

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ATMs:A Simple Example

  • What are the benefits of ATMs?

  • What are the negative aspects of ATMs?

    • unemployment

    • lower levels of customer service

    • crime

    • loss of privacy

    • errors

  • Does this mean that ATMs are bad?

  • How can we manage and minimize the problems? What are some solutions?

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Other Examples

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Course Administration

  • Course website


    • course materials, notes, announcements, etc.

  • Course goal

    • learn about the social, economic, ethical, and legal issues generated by the use of computers and computer networks, including the Internet.

    • I want you to be able to see, express, and discuss different perspectives of controversial and complex issues related to IT.

  • Teaching style

    • lectures

    • case studies (every class)

    • interactive, in-class assignments and discussions

    • student presentations

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Administrivia - Class Structure

  • Registration

    • everyone registered?

  • Syllabus

    • look over very carefully

  • Readings

    • required book

    • downloadable documents

  • Schedule

    • this is the most important resource for class

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Administrivia - Class Structure

  • Grading

    • Exams (2) 30%

    • Term Paper15%

    • Presentation 5%

    • Case Reports (6)30%

    • Participation15%

    • Attendance 5%

  • Regarding missed exams

  • Honor code

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Frameworks for Ethical Analysis

Professor Matt Thatcher

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Ethical Frameworks

  • Teleological

    • ends/outcome

    • gives priority to the good of society in general over the rights of individuals

    • the right action is that which produces the most net benefit to society (or optimizes social welfare)

    • the right action depends on the outcome or consequence

    • no intrinsically evil acts

  • Deontological

    • means/process

    • gives priority to the rights of individuals or obligation of duty over the good of society in general

    • the right action is independent of the outcome or consequence

    • actions are intrinsically wrong or right based on duty or rights

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Ethical Frameworks

  • Teleological

    • end (utility, happiness,…..)

    • utilitarianism

      • maximize social utility (not just individual utility)

      • moral calculus

      • how do you measure happiness, benefits, costs?

        • automobile example

      • how do you avoid self-serving assumptions and biases?

        • Lockheed (American aerospace company)

      • long-run vs. short-run

    • how can it go wrong?

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Ethical Frameworks

  • Deontological

    • duty based

      • Immanuael Kant

        • Kant’s categorical imperative -- “ I should never act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law.”

      • Universal Acceptability

        • would disinterested and affected parties agree

        • publicity test

      • moral law = respect for other human beings

    • rights based

      • human or legal rights (free speech, privacy, property rights)

    • what are moral rights or duties? What happens if two moral duties or rights conflict?

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Steps for Ethical Analysis(Case Reports)

  • Identify the “ethical dilemma (or question)” in the case.

    • pose an open-ended question that generated many potential answers, not one that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”.

  • Discuss the role that information technology played in creating the special circumstances of the case.

  • List the stakeholders in the case.

    • clearly state a right or duty of each stakeholder.

  • List and describe alternative courses of action that may be taken and determine the likely consequences of each proposed action for each stakeholder.

    • list and describe at least four (4) alternative course of action.

  • Analyze the case from a teleological perspective.

    • Make sure to explain!!!!! Think about a cost/benefit analysis.

  • Analyze this case from a deontological perspective.

    • Make sure to explain!!!!! If there are competing rights which rights have priority and why?

  • Describe your normative recommendation in this case (what actions would you recommend – law, norms, market forces, technology). What is the basis of your recommendation (teleological or deontological)?

    • This is worth the most points. Do not cut this discussion short!

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Types of Solutions to Consider

  • Law

    • copyrights, patents, trademarks, privacy laws

  • Industry norms (self-regulation)

    • Common Industry Formats (CIFs)

    • third-party enforcement programs such as privacy seal programs

  • Market forces

    • consumer awareness and action and competition

    • management solutions (corporate privacy policies)

  • Technology solutions

    • cookies, anonymizers, filtering software, encryption, digital rights management systems

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Next Time

  • Read through the materials provided on the course website.

  • Read the “Capital One” case and complete the “Short Essay” assignment for next class

    • note that “Short Essays” have different requirements than “Case Reports”

  • Purchase the book required for this course from the UNLV Bookstore (phone: 736-3955)

    • Spinello, Richard A. Case Studies in Information Technology Ethics (2nd Edition). Prentice-Hall, Inc., 2003.

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