To provide a forum for the study and discussion of the impact of computers on humans and society. For students interested in exploring social, ethical,
scientific, and practical implications of the recentweb-based technologies and systems.
How do computers and related technologies affect us as individuals and as members of societies? How has technological enablement changed the human ecological niche, and how are computers now changing it? We will consider the differences between automation and information technologies and how they affect work, education, and leisure activities in society. The effect of information on relationships among individuals and groups in the workplace, in business, government, the media, health, law, education, and other social activities will be critically examined, raising questions about tradeoffs between personal/group opportunities and social responsibilities and the need for "computer ethics". The role of the web and distributed world-wide computing in economic and scientific development will be discussed, together with security,privacy and confidentiality issues that arise to challenge societal and individual decision-making. The increasing application of "smart machines" using artifical intelligence techniques will be assessed, and some of the underlying mind/brain vs. machine issues explored. The the course will also study emerging computational technologies such as virtual reality and artificial life and their societal implications.
Study reports, papers, and texts on selected topics. Class presentations, discussions, and debates. Short essays and projects, mid-term exam, and final term paper.