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<p><a name='1'></a></p>
<h1>CS H195: Ethics with Harvey</h1>
<h2>August 27, 2012</h2>
<p>Good afternoon. Probably people will be trickling in because they will have
gone to the old room. We'll start anyway.</p>
<p>Um, okay! Welcome to Social Implications of Computers. I apologize in
advance for being disorganized an unenergetic -- just got off an airplane,
so forgive me.</p>
<p>So let's start with the news. Cell phone exposure limits should be
reassessed. (This is a bit old, but still news.) This business about cell
phone radiation has been controversial, and there's never been any really
clear hundred percent convincing evidence that cell phone radiation hurts
you, but there have been some suggested studies. The government
accountability office suggests that it should be studied yet again.</p>
<p>One thing is, by the way, the situation keeps changing as the technology
<p>The nice thing about GSM is that with the old techs, if your cell phone
cannot find a signal, it keeps broadcasting harder and harder until it
fries your brain! No, until it runs out of battery. So if you're in the
wilderness, you'll run out of battery. I believe that's not the issue with
GSM, but I'm not an electrical engineer.</p>
<p>You're supposed to use Bluetooth, which is also a radio, but it is shorter
<p>FCC fines Verizon for blocking tethering. The issue is one of monopolistic
practices. Telephone service, there aren't many cell phone carriers, as it
should be: you don't want everyone to build redundant cell phone tower
networks. The issue is if you take a natural monopoly (cell phone service)
and turn it into something else (software). This is what got Microsoft in
trouble before (OS -&gt; web browsers). Never understood why that was an
issue, since web browsers are free, and this web browser was never any good
in the first place.</p>
<p>Cell phone providers compete based on the price of their basic plans. And
then you end up paying quite a bit more for addons. One of the addons
Verizon solved was permission to use your smartphone to provide internet
service to your laptop. And they charge \$20 a month (or something like
that) to do that. Apparently they promised that they were not going to
prevent any software to be used on their network, and third parties were
making tethering apps.</p>
<p>FTC proposes tougher kids' privacy rules. Kids' privacy, you understand the
issue: when you put your drunken orgy pictures on facebook, you're supposed
to be adults and get in trouble for it. But when you're a kid, you're not
supposed to know better. So kids need to be protected, and there's various
legislation protecting kids. Sites are supposed to ask for a parent's
permission when asking for personal information. But now third parties can
avoid this parental consent deal (e.g. facebook, twitter).</p>
<p>Pentagon proposes more robust role for its cyber specialists. Namely they
want ability to take action outside of their networks to defend critical
computer systems. Obviously DoD has computer systems and computer
specialists to secure their networks. Obviously a good idea so that people
don't have missiles. Also a number of systems that don't have to do with
defense that are pretty important, like power. So they want the ability to
intervene in the event of cyber-attack for systems they don't own. This is
because they believe their security experts are better than other people's
security experts. This is a problem because it opens the door to the
government mucking around with other people's computers.</p>
<p>Newly discovered malware linked to Stuxnet. Stuxnet was this virus invented
by a combined effort of the military of the US and Israel to destroy the
Iranian nuclear production capabilities. And what the story is about is a
new version thought to be also military, and this one is not trying to melt
things down; it's trying to steal inforamtion, including customer data from
banks. And why is this? They're worried about money-laundering by
terrorists. Their virus programs can't determine ahead of time who's a
terrorist and who isn't. And this is one of the reasons why people are a
little nervous about allowing any expansion of military authorization to
access other people's computers.</p>
<p>Google changes its search formula to allow privacy. I'm sorry, not privacy,
piracy. Google is tweaking its formula to penalize sites suspected of
hosting pirated music, video, games, etc. Google's policy has been that
combating piracy is not their job; their job is to help people find
stuff. Now they're changing their policy. What they're now doing is
tracking takedown notices. The reason why there's this process is because
this stuff is often not put on by the owner, but is user-submitted
content. This is all very interesting because one of the biggest
accumulators of takedown notices is Youtube, and we have yet to see whether
Google is going to stop pointing to Youtube.</p>
<p>Researchers write book using DNA. Pretty recent. Basically, constructed DNA
where sequence encodes the book. This is a denser information-packing
technique. So far, it's really really expensive, so it's not going to show
up in RadioShack just yet, but it's an interesting technology.</p>
<p>Apple patents violated by Samsung. Um, okay. I admit, so am I (re: being on
Samsung's side). Apple has patents not on technology, but on designs. One
of the sillier Apple patents is "rounded corners". There are some other
ones that are a little more serious, like "pinch in to zoom, and pinch out
to zoom the other way". The important thing is not that they're patenting
multitouch screens. That would be a real technological patent. What they're
patenting is a particular use of multitouch screens, where certain gestures
mean certain things. That's called a design patent, and that's more
controversial compared to real technological patents. Apple is trying to
get court to lock the sales of Samsung technology. So if you have a patent,
you can use it to collect royalties from people or prevent other people
from entering the market altogether, and the latter is what Apple seems to
be doing. Really, what they seem to be doing is get rid of Android, one of
their competitors.</p>
<p>This is an example of what we'll be talking about, collected over the last
few weeks. My plan is for everyone to bring in stuff. You are invited, if
you come across a story you think we should know about, to send it in.</p>
<p>I'm going to stop for a moment about administration. Namely, there are two
versions of this course: 195 and H195. We have too many people in both of
them, but especially too many people that want to take H195, and I want to
talk some of you out of it. Usually, if it's too full, I'll just try to get
a larger room. The point of H195 is to get a discussion, and that doesn't
work if we have 50 people in a room. This is the biggest room we could get,
second time around. So here's the deal: H195 is meant for people who have a
real deep interest in the topic and want to be part of discussions and
learn a lot. Unfortunately, it seems that H195 satisfies some breadth
requirement, a provision which I'm going to try to get rid of, but I
haven't gotten rid of it yet. My guess is that some of the people who chose
H195 did so for that reason. So it's more work. And, in fairness to the
people who want to be in it because they want to be in it, I'm going to be
very strict about doing the work. I hope I don't have to resort to things
like quizzes on the reading (because I will if I have to). If you are in
H195, you will have to do twice as much reading, you will have to write one
long term paper, and you will have to actually talk in place. Be at class,
first of all, having done the reading, and participate in discussion.</p>
<p>I'll talk about this on Wednesday for the people who are in H or want to be
in H. If you want to be in H, come on Wednesday and we'll have swordfights
or something.</p>
<p>Reader is at Copy Central. Sadly the Copy Central on Hearst closed, so
you'll have to go to Shattuck Square. Different readers for H and regular 195.</p>
<p>This is a P/NP course. There are good things and bad things from the
student's perspective. The best thing from my perspective (well, from yours
too, I guess) is that you don't feel that you have to agree with me on
things. You'll pass if you do the work. The disadvantage is that not
passing you is a pretty blunt weapon. You'll have to come to class, I will
take attendance (not this time); I hate doing that; it makes me feel like a
third-grade teacher or something. And I've learned that students who are
taking five classes (one of which is P/NP) tend to get caught up in their
162 lab or something.</p>
<p>You're all going to write three papers; if you're in 195, it'll be three
one-page papers on assigned topics. If you're in H, it'll be two of those
and a term paper. The term paper, you'll start by writing a one-page
proposal. Rare that I say "no"; usually I say it's too broad and give some
<p>Will need a bibliography: from the Greek "book", not to be confused with
website. Problem with websites? Anyone can put anything on the web; it
stays there forever even if it's proven wrong. Doesn't get any editing or
criticism prior to publication; tends to be breaking news rather than
later, common analysis. Although websites can be good sources about news
(when it's relevant), it's good when you have some retrospective ideas in
your work as well. Due end of October, and maybe a quarter of them I will
say are fine; the other three quarters you will have to rewrite. So the
term paper's a big deal. Oh yeah, there's a section here called Academic
Integrity. Your part, don't plagiarize; that's easy. My part is, um, trying
to be fair about the ideas I present to you. I don't believe there's any
such thing as neutrality. When people on the TV pretend they're being
neutral, they're lying to you. They have a point of view.</p>
<p>Nevertheless, if everyone seems to be agreeing with me, I'll try to present
the other sides.</p>
<p>The next two pages are events. There's a calendar including assignments and
readings. Things in the reader are supposed to be chronological, but
they're not. The things out of order are marked with an asterisk. The next
thing is an article called the Ethical Context of Computing. It's basically
an overview, and if you look it over, it'll give you an idea of what this
course is about. This isn't an ethics course. An ethics course is "don't
pirate movies" and "don't lie to your boss" and things like that. This is a
course about making you aware about the non-obvious ways that computers
affect our lives.</p>
<p>Most of the time in this class, we're going to be talking about bad
consequences of computing. Going to say at the offset that's not because I
think that computers are all bad; I love what I do. But the good
consequences tend to take care of themselves; the bad ones are more
difficult. Computers in medicine. Wonderful, wonderful things
happen. Looking for ones that are clearly all on one side.</p>
<p>Side comment: you know if you turn a cell phone off, it's not really off?
If you want to keep the government from listening to you, you have to take
the battery out. (Matt: and even then it's got a few seconds of
<p>EFF. What you have here is an issue of their newsletter, which you can get
by mail if you want, or it's on their newsletter. And then you have this
thing in ASCII, not web-looking, and it's called EPIC Alert, from the
Electronic Privacy Information Center. EPIC is a much more narrowly focused
group [than EFF]. Spend their time lobbying on behalf of privacy. It's a
small group; that is to say, it is a large group in the sense that you can
be a member of it and send them money, but it's a small staff, very
focused. They publish this newsletter about specifically privacy issues.</p>
<p>Then there's some stuff from CITRIS, which is a campus group. The Center
for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society. List of
some projects they work on.</p>
<p>That's the handout, that's the administrative stuff, let me pause for
<p>Q: Honors reader: same as last semester?
A: Believe so.</p>
<p>Q: Possible to take regular, then come back later to take H?
A: They won't let you, but come talk to me.</p>
<p>Class is bigger than room size. They let you get a little bigger than room
size. Won't be able to get all of you off the waiting list right away. On
Wednesday, I'm going to try to get a better sense of how many are really
going to take H. If you are on the waiting list for H, and you can't get
into H195, you can still probably get into 195.</p>
<p>Wanted to talk about unintended consequences and computers in general, just
for a little bit. It's very very rare that computers raise issues that were
never issues before. What happens is things that were issues all along
become much more important or more pressing or more something. So let me
just take an example. Social security numbers. Your social security number
is a pretty important thing not to get out in the world because of identity
theft. That was always true. But identity theft used to be harder to do,
and the number of cases was much smaller before computers.</p>
<p>But here's another side effect (less obvious). When you buy yourself a
house, that transaction is on the public record. In many (most?) counties,
that record includes your social security number. That didn't matter when
in order to look it up, you had to transport yourself to the county clerk's
office, but these days, they do all that stuff online. So if you're a home
owner, there's a good chance that your social security number is online in
a publicly accessible record. This is one of those disasters waiting to
happen. This is a way computers exacerbate a problem that was around all
along and have unexpected consequences. The public records of deeds is in
many ways a good thing, and was intended to resolve disputes about property
between neighbors. Nobody thought about privacy implications, and when they
put these into computers, nobody thought about the implications, again.</p>
<p>Had they thought about it, when they scanned old numbers, they would have
redacted social security numbers. So that's just a very small narrow
example of the way in which computers amplify issues. It's the same with
almost everything we're going to talk about this semester. I mentioned
earlier the risk of cyber-attacks on power stations. Something you may not
know or care about (but will know anyway) is until quite recently (10-20
years ago), every power distribution facility in the US had the same
lock. Why? Because every once in a while, there's a big power failure, and
it's traditional that the electrical power company areas from neighboring
areas will come into the affected area to help out. They wanted to make it
so someone from the Nevada power company could rush over and get right to
work in a California power substation. They don't do that anywhere because
they started to get security-conscious.</p>
<p>There was never much danger of the Russian army marching in and attacking
our power plants. But there is a danger of some one crazy guy attacking
power plants. So people started thinking about security. What computers do
is make it possible for the crazy guy to not be physically present, and
that's a problem. All semester long, we're going to be looking at
unexpected consequences. In a way, my goal in this class is that when you
go out in the world and build stuff, there won't be as many unintended
consequences because you think about stuff. So that's the goal. It's not to
make you better people; you either are or aren't, and there's not much I
can do about it. But you could be careless in certain ways. I'm sensitizing
you. So that's the purpose of the course.</p>
<p><a name='2'></a></p>
<h1>CS H195: Ethics with Harvey</h1>
<h2>September 10, 2012</h2>
<p>Article from the Washington Post about the process by which the iPhone was
invented, based on internal memos and emails that came out in the Apple
v. Samsung lawsuit. Interesting: author is of view that Apple deserved to
win. What is interesting is the kinds of false starts they made, things
they had to redo, clever ideas. Interesting read.</p>
<p>Civilian "hacktivists" fight terrorists online. About random people who
attempt to infiltrate terrorist organizations online. If I were a
terrorist, I wouldn't be on the web. These guys make up fake identities for
themselves and acquire information they then pass on to the
government. Relevant to today's topic. Constraints on US Gov't that do not
apply to private parties. Police orgs can buy information that they would
not be able to collect themselves. This is not them buying: people
volunteering, but same issue.</p>
<p>What else is new? Bittorrent downloads monitored by copyright
enforcement. They only monitor popular stuff, so if you have obscure
tastes, then you're probably fine.</p>
<p>From Angry Birds to multiplayer video games, NASA ramps up investment in
education technology. They're working on a ten-million massively
multiplayer video game simulating life on Mars. They've already done some
other things in this game area. NASA's interested in education, and the way
to do education effectively seems to be to make games people want to play
(for the game) that are educational. Been done before; mostly bad. You're
playing some adventure game, slashing at monsters, and all of a sudden it
says "what is four times seven?" Interested both in recruiting next
generation of scientists and getting people interested in space to the
point the gov't will spend some money on it.</p>
<p>Internet addiction is real, German Researchers say. Found genetic variation
that might cause it. This is pretty iffy, in my opinion. What might be true
is that there are things in your genetic background that make you more or
less prone to obsessions of whatever kind; that could be true. You can look
it up, but I don't think that the study justified the idea that there's a
special one for internet addiction, but there you have it.</p>
<p>Anti-sec says Apple machine IDs leaked from some company.</p>
<p>That's the news. The topic that we're talking about this week is privacy. I
have to tell you that when I first heard about the topic of privacy on
computers, my reaction was "I don't have anything to hide; why do I care?"
Very valid reaction, some of you are probably thinking that too. So why
should we care about privacy? I want to put aside reasons relating to fear
of identity theft.</p>
<p>One of the things I hope you read this week was the article by James
Rachels. Nobody has nothing to hide -- not even you. You might not be doing
anything to get in trouble, but you may have quirks that you practice in
private (with selected friends).</p>
<p>As we speak, I'm having a little conflict with an administrator (having to
do with 61AS), and the way I talk about it with my colleagues is different
than the way I talk about it to this administrator's boss. It's different
tones: it's not different facts or opinions; it's different tones.</p>
<p>Identity theft: all I'm going to say about that right now: unless you've
looked into it, it's way easier than you think. Researcher at MIT found
that birth date and zip code is all they need to find your medical
records. Can look at anonymized public health data and find you in it.</p>
<p>So. Speaking of medical records, by law, employers are not supposed to use
medical information about you in hiring decisions. There are two reasons
they might want to. One of them is prejudice (so the canonical example is
"you have AIDS", and they think that means you've been behaving sinfully,
and they don't want to hire you, but another is that you might have some
disability that would require special accommodation from your employer that
they might not want to bother with).</p>
<p>Repurposing of information: e.g. Google reading your email to sell you to
advertisers (choosing which ads to display to you). The textbook example of
repurposing that people talk about is around election time, Republicans
make a big issue about welfare fraud. Exists in small amounts. Makes for
good headlines, and so they have these big campaigns to try to catch
welfare cheaters. Back in the 1970s, the state of Massachusetts had the
clever idea of taking their computerized list of welfare recipients and
their computerized list of state employees and doing a merge (checking
which people were on both lists). Found a bunch, but a lot turned out to
not be double-dippers (not working and collecting unemployment), but rather
mistaken matches. Would think that this would not happen, but in fact there
were many people with the same name, or they found some people who used to
work for the state (or used to be on welfare), and just plain wrong
information. Eventually that all got cleared up, but not until after the
state police showed up knocking on people's doors and asking for
information. That's a technical example of what can go wrong with
repurposing information.</p>
<p>Those are the arguments about privacy (why privacy matters) even if you
don't have any secrets. You can get into accidental trouble, can be
discriminated against (for various reasons), and you can be embarrassed for
something turning up in a different context. Happens to people of Harvey's
age who in their youths participated in Usenet. And I know it never
occurred to me in a million years that someone was archiving this stuff,
because something I said forty years ago (online) is still around. Would
have phrased things more carefully if I realized that I was making a
permanent record.</p>
<p>So I want to talk for a minute about the law and privacy. So I should start
by saying I'm not a lawyer, not giving legal advice, etc.</p>
<p>No absolute right to privacy. Cases where various people have legal
authority to look at data you thought was private. Maybe the most obvious
one is if you're suspected of a crime, the police can get a search warrant
to break into your house and look at your stuff, let alone your
computer. But maybe a less obvious case is the one about credit
report. Every time you make a financial transaction, it gets reported to
the credit bureau. Not gov't; it's a private company. I think most people
would say that's a legitimate business purpose.</p>
<p>So. Lots of people can have access to your information for lots of
perfectly good reasons. But in the case of the gov't, there's a long
history of limitations because of the right to privacy in the fourth
amendment. There are some funny exceptions to those limitations. For
instance: you can't be stopped and searched without probable cause, except
that on New Year's Eve, the highway patrol is allowed to stop every tenth
car and breath that student. Result of CA supreme court decision. Can see
purpose of it, but it's a random stop and search.</p>
<p>One that's so common that people don't even think about it any more is the
inspection of your luggage at the airport. The legitimate purpose of that
is people blowing up the airplane, but if they happen to find drugs in your
luggage, the fact that that has nothing to do with terrorism, they can
still arrest you.</p>
<p>The situation is tricky: you can't just say nobody should ever have access
to information about me period. There are many legitimate reasons; that's
why the issue of repurposing is so important. Thought experiment: problem
of terrorists blowing up airports, special team of finding these
terrorists. All they're doing is searching for weapons; they can't do
anything about anything else they find. That would be a way to prevent
<p>When the police have unrestricted power, bad things tend to happen. Privacy
isn't mentioned in the Constitution. It's a judicial construct.</p>
<p>9/11? Massive change to your right to privacy, and not one for the better,
I would argue. Largely to the passing of laws that are not constitutional,
in part due to things that are extra-legal.</p>
<p>Legal to eavesdrop on international calls. Not yet legal to monitor
domestic calls. Law now requires ISPs to make it easy to wiretap a person's
<p>Some things about the needs that conflict with privacy. Textbook of CS10
(Blown to Bits) starts with a story of a woman who drove her car off the
road, hanging on a cliff (unconscious) for a period of five days because
that's how long it took for the police to get legal access to her cell
phone carrier's information to which cell tower her phone was last in. By
law, if you're an adult, you have to be gone three days before they declare
you a missing person (since maybe you went missing on purpose).</p>
<p>Not a story that happens every day. She lived, by the way. Extreme case in
which privacy conflicts with other needs.</p>
<p>More common thing that conflicts with privacy: most common is just
<p>Third parties holding onto your information. Different companies have
different policies. Mostly pretty bad. Google actually is relatively good,
in the following sense: they have fought even subpoenas that they
considered to be overbroad.</p>
<p>During the last big epidemic scare, Google published a map regarding where
there was a big number of search queries of a particular flu. Was very
accurate (week ahead of public health) and was in fact life-saving. Good
use of information where there wasn't any "who made the queries" but rather
just how many.</p>
<p>Two threats to privacy: governments and businesses. Third (recent) one:
individual people with cameras on cell phones.</p>
<p><a name='3'></a></p>
<h1>CS H195: Ethics with Harvey</h1>
<h2>September 17, 2012</h2>
<p>Lawsuit to get records about NSA's surveillance information.</p>
<p>Video games affecting people, evidently.</p>
<p>Government subpoenaed Twitter to give people tweets.</p>
<p>Records can be subpoenaed in a court case, etc. We'll see how this plays
out. Today, in today's Daily Cal, UCB suing big companies. Universities do
research, etc. Back in the day, core memory meant people paid money to IBM
and MIT. Berkeley holds a bunch of patents. Non-software seems reasonable.</p>
<p>Important point: the burst of genius is very rarely true. Enabling
technologies have reached the point of making things feasible. Usual story
about inventions. Flash bulb in a camera, single-use: before sustainable
light bulb. Steam engine. Some inventions aren't like that. Some really do
just come to somebody (velcro, xerography). Nobody else was working on
that. More often, everyone is thinking about this stuff.</p>
<p>IP. A patent is the right to develop an invention, to produce things
dependent on an invention. Copyright is not about invention, it's about
creative and artistic works. And there, if you have an idea and write about
it, other people are allowed to use your ideas, not your words. Trademark,
you know what it is; you can register one; people are not allowed to use it
in ways that might confuse people. You can in principle make a vacuum
cleaner called "time". How close do things have to be to raise a lawsuit?
Lawsuit about Apple Computers vs Apple Records. Later did, which caused a
later round of battling.</p>
<p>Personal likeness, I can't take a picture of you and publish it with
certain exceptions. Most important for famous people. Funny rules:
newsworthy, and news photographers are allowed to take pictures of
newsworthy people.</p>
<p>Trade secrets: if a company has secrets, and you are a competing company,
you may not send a spy to extract these secrets.</p>
<p>House ownership. There are houses where people have had houses for
millennia. Patents and copyrights are not like that: not a right. Those
things are bargains between creators and society. Purpose to society is
that these eventually belong to the public. One of the readings talks about
a different history of patents quoting Italian legal scholars, and if
correct, patents were supposed to be permanent ownership. Why might it be
good to society? Used to be people who made new inventions. Guilds. Hard to
join, and you would be a slave for a while. Master would teach apprentice
the trade, and advantage was that it reduced competition. Trouble was that
there is a long history of things people used to be able to do that we
can't anymore. Textbook example: Stradivarius violins.</p>
<p>Nonetheless, nobody knows how Stradivarius made violins. Stories about how
to make paints of particular colors. What the patent system is trying to
avoid. Describe how invention works so someone in the field can create
it. By making this disclosure, you are given a limited-term exclusive right
to make these.</p>
<p>The thing is, sooner or later, your technology is going to be obsolete. To
your advantage to have a clear legal statement.</p>
<p>Patent treaties. Used to be that if you invented something important, you'd
hire a bunch of lawyers.</p>
<p>Until recently, software was not patentable. ATT wanted to patent the
SETUID bit. In those days, you could not patent any math or software or
<p>Patents stifling innovation in the field. When you file a patent
application. Let's say you deny the patent. You would like to fall back on
trade secrecy. Patent applications are secret until approved. Startups
doomed. Wouldn't matter if term were short compared to innovation cycle of
the industry.</p>
<p>Another thing in the Constitution is that treaties take precedence over
domestic laws.</p>
<p>So let's talk about copyrights! So. Nobody says let's do away with
copyright altogether. Copyright (at its worst) is less socially harmful
than patents because it's so specific. Again, copyrights are a
bargain. Started in Britain between the King and printers. Printers wanted
exclusive right to things they printed. King wanted printers to be
censors. Originally not authors who had copyright, but the publisher. Often
creators of rights will sell the rights to publishers.</p>
<p>This is where computers come in. How to sell to world? Used to need big
company with facilities to create copies and widely
distribute. Self-publish: work available to everyone. Important: rarely
author who complains about copyrights. Usually publishers.</p>
<p>There's always been piracy, but limited historically by analog media losing
information when copying.</p>
<p>Term of copyright has gotten longer and longer. Lawsuit about this about
the most recent extension. In effect, making permanent copyright, against
constitution. Ironic because copyright law now would have made much of
what made Disney rich would have been copyrighted. Lot of exceptions to
copyright law. Fair use. e.g. cannot write a Harry Potter novel, but can
write a Harry Potter parody. Famous case: Gone with the Wind. About how
wonderful life was for the owners of slaves. Someone wrote a book
(retelling from slave's point of view); ruled as fair use (political
commentary, protected by free speech).</p>
<p>Stallman actually invented a system that has 5 different categories of
work. Even Stallman doesn't say to ditch copyright. Hardly any musicians
make any money selling music because their contracts say that they make a
certain percentage of net proceeds. The way musicians survive is concerts,
and ironically, selling concert CDs. Stallman says to make music players
have a money button and send money directly to the musician.</p>
<p><a name='4'></a></p>
<h1>CS H195: Ethics with Harvey</h1>
<h2>September 24, 2012</h2>
<p>Vastly oversimplified picture of moral philosophy. Leaves out a lot.</p>
<p>So Socrates says famously "to know the good is to desire the good", by
which he means that if you really understand what's in your own interest,
it's going to turn out to be the right thing. Counter-intuitive, since
we've probably encountered situations in which we think what's good for us
isn't good for the rest of the community.</p>
<p>Ended up convicting Socrates, and he was offered the choice between exile
from Athens and death -- chose death because he felt that he could not
exist outside of his own community. His most famous student was Plato, who
started an Academy (Socrates just wandered around from hand to mouth), took
in students (one of whom was Aristotle). If you're scientists or engineers,
you've been taught to make fun of Aristotle, since he said that heavier
objects fall faster than light objects, and famously, Galileo took two
objects, dropped them, and they hit the ground at the same time.</p>
<p>It's true that some of the things Aristotle said about the physical world
have turned out not to be right. But it's important to understand it in
terms of the physical world, he did not have the modern idea of trying to
make a universal theory that explained everything.</p>
<p>Objects falling in atmosphere with friction different from behavior of
planets orbiting sun? Perfectly fine with Aristotle.</p>
<p>One of the things Aristotle knew? When you see a plate of donuts, you know
perfectly well that it's just carbs and fat and you shouldn't eat them, but
you do anyway. Socrates explains that as "you don't really know through and
through that it is bad for you", and Aristotle doesn't like that
explanation. Knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different
things. Took that in two directions: action syllogism (transitivity),
extended so that conclusion of the syllogism can be an action. Not
important to us: important to us is that he introduces the idea of
virtues. A virtue is not an understanding of what's right, but a habit --
like a good habit you get into.</p>
<p>Aristotle lists a bunch of virtues, and in all cases he describes it as a
midpoint between two extremes (e.g. courage between cowardice and
foolhardiness, or honesty as a middle ground between dishonesty and saying
too much).</p>
<p>Better have good habits, since you don't have time in real crises to
think. So Aristotle's big on habits. And he says that you learn the virtues
through being a member of a community and through the role you play in that
community, Lived in a time that people inherited roles a lot. The argument
goes a little like this. What does it mean to be a good person? Hard
question. What does it mean to be a good carpenter? Much easier. A good
carpenter builds stuff that holds together and looks nice, etc. What are
the virtues that lead to being a good carpenter? Also easy: patience, care,
measurement, honesty, etc. Much easier than what's a good
<p>Aristotle's going to say that the virtues of being a good person are
precisely the virtues you learn in social practices from people older than
you who are masters of the practice. One remnant of that in modern society
is martial arts instruction. When you go to a martial arts school and say
you want to learn, one of the first things you learn is respect for your
instructor, and you're supposed to live your life in a disciplined way, and
you're not learning skills so much as habits. Like what Aristotle'd say
about any practice. Not so much of that today: when you're learning to be a
computer scientist, there isn't a lot of instruction in "here are the
habits that make you a (morally) good computer scientist".</p>
<p>Kant was not a communitarian: was more of "we can figure out the right
answer to ethical dilemmas." He has an axiom system, just like in
mathematics: with small numbers of axioms, you can prove things. Claims
just one axiom, which he describes in multiple ways.</p>
<p>Categorical imperative number one: treat people as ends, not means. This is
the grown-up version of the golden rule. Contracts are all right as long as
both parties have their needs met and exchange is not too unequal.</p>
<p>Second version: universalizability. An action is good if it is
universalizable. That means, if everybody did it, would it work? Textbook
example is "you shouldn't tell lies". The only reason telling lies works is
because people usually tell the truth, and so people are predisposed to
thinking that it's usually true. If everyone told lies, then we'd be
predisposed to disbelieve statements. Lying would no longer be effective.</p>
<p>There's a third one which BH can never remember which is much less
important. Kant goes on to prove theorems to resolve moral dilemmas.</p>
<p>Problem from Kant: A runs past you into the house. B comes up with a gun
and asks you where A is. Kant suggests something along the lines of
misleading B.</p>
<p>Axiomatic, resolve ethical problems through logic and proving what you want
to do. Very popular among engineers, mainly for the work of Rawls, who
talks about the veil of ignorance. You have to imagine yourself, looking at
life on Earth, and not knowing in what social role you're going to be
born. Rawls thinks that from this perspective, you have to root for the
underdog when situations come up, because in any particular thing that
comes up, harm to the rich person is going to be less than the gains of the
poor person (in terms of total wealth, total needs). Going to worry about
being on side of underdog, etc. More to Rawls: taking into account how
things affect all different constituencies.</p>
<p>Another descendant of Plato are utilitarians. One of the reasons it's
important for you to understand this chart: when you don't think about it
too hard, you use utilitarian principles, which is sometimes
bad. Utilitarians talk about the greatest good for the greatest number.</p>
<p>Back to something from this class: what if I illegally download some movie?
Is that okay? How much do I benefit, and how much is the movie-maker
harmed? Not from principled arguments, which is what Kant wants you to do,
but from nuts and bolts, who benefits how much, each way.</p>
<p>Putting that in a different fashion, Kantians are interested in what
motivates your action, why you did it. Utilitarians are interested in the
result of your action. One thing that makes utilitarian hard is that you
have to guess as to what probably will happen.</p>
<p>Now I want to talk to you about MacIntyre. Gave you a lot of reading,
probably hardest reading in the course. Talks like a philosopher. Uses
dessert as what you deserve (noun of deserve). Life-changing for BH when he
came across MacIntyre; passing it on to you as a result.</p>
<p>He starts by saying to imagine an aftermath in which science is blamed and
destroyed. A thousand years later, some people digging through the remains
of our culture read about this word science, and it's all about
understanding how the physical world works, and they want to revive this
practice. Dig up books by scientists, read and memorize bits of them,
analyze, have discussions. The people who do this call themselves
scientists because they're studying science.</p>
<p>We from our perspective would say that isn't science at all -- you don't
just engage with books, but rather engage with the physical world through
experiments. Those imagined guys from a millennium from now have lost the
practice. They think they're following a practice, but they have no idea
what it's like. MacIntyre argues this is us with ethics.</p>
<p>Equivalent to WW3 according to MacIntyre is Kant. Kant really, more than
anyone else, brought into being the modern era. Why? Because in the times
prior to Kant, a lot of arguments not only about ethics but also by the
physical world were resolved by religious authority. Decisions made based
on someone's interpretation of the bible, e.g.</p>
<p>Kant claims to be a Christian, but he thinks the way we understand God's
will is by applying the categorical imperative. Instead of asking a priest
what to do, we reason it out. We don't ask authorities, we work it out.
Also, he starts this business of ethical dilemmas. Everybody in the top
half of the world talks in terms of the good life. Even Socrates, who
thinks you can know what to do, talks about the good life, too. So ethics
is not about "what do I do in this situation right now", but rather the
entirety of one's life and what it means to live a good life.</p>
<p>Kant and Mill: no sense of life as a flow; rather, moments of
decisions. What MacIntyre calls the ethical equivalent of WW3: at that
point, we lost the thread, since we stopped talking about the good
life. Now, it wasn't an unmitigated disaster, since it gives us -- the
modern liberal society, not in the American sense of voting for democrats,
but in the sense that your life goals are up to you as an individual, and
the role of society is to build infrastructure and getting in people's way,
so stopping people from doing things. I can, say, have some sexual practice
different from yours. So that was a long time coming. Now, in our
particular culture, the only thing that's bad is having sex with children,
as far as I can tell -- as long as it doesn't involve you messing up
someone else's life, e.g. rape. As long as it involves two (or more?)
consenting adults, that's okay.</p>
<p>MacIntyre says that there are things that came up with Kant that we can't
just turn back to being Aristotlean. The people who lived the good life
were male Athenian citizens. They had wives who weren't eligible, and they
had slaves who did most of the grunt work. And so male Athenian citizens
could spend their time walking around chatting with Socrates because they
were supported by slavery. And nobody wants to go back to that. No real way
to go back to being Aristotlean without giving up modern civil rights.</p>
<p>So. One of the things I really like about MacIntyre is the example of
wanting to teach a child how to play chess, but he's not particularly
interested. He is, however, interested in candy. You say, every time you
play with me, I'll give you a piece of candy. If you win, two pieces. Will
play in a way that's difficult but possible to beat me. So, MacIntyre says
this child is now motivated to play and to play well. But he's also
motivated to cheat, if he can get away with it. So let's say this
arrangement goes on for some time, and the kid gets better at it. What you
hope is that the child reaches a point where the game is valuable to
itself: he or she sees playing chess as rewarding (as an intellectual
challenge). When that happens, cheating becomes self-defeating.</p>
<p>While the child is motivated by external goods (rewards, money, fame,
whatever), then the child is not part of the community of practice. But
once the game becomes important (the internal benefits motivate him), then
he does feel like part of the community. Huge chess community with
complicated infrastructure with rating, etc. And that's a community with
practice, and it has virtues (some of which are unique to chess, but maybe
not -- e.g. planning ahead). Honesty, of course; patience; personal
<p>And the same is true with most things that human beings do. Not
everything. MacIntyre raises the example of advertising. What are the
virtues of this practice? Well, appealing to people in ways that they don't
really see; suggesting things that aren't quite true without saying
them. He lists several virtues that advertising people have, and these
virtues don't generalize. Not part of being a good person; not even
compatible with being a good person. So different from virtues of normal
<p>Having advertising writers is one of the ways in which MacIntyre thinks
we've just lost the thread. The reason we have them is that we hold up in
our society the value of furthering your own ambition and getting rich, and
not getting rich by doing something that's good anyway, but just getting
rich. That's an external motivation rather than an internal one.</p>
<p>We talk about individuals pursuing their own ends. We glorify -- take as an
integral part of our society -- as individuals pursuing their own ends. In
a modern understanding of ethics, you approach each new situation as if
you've never done anything. You don't learn from experience; you learn from
rules. The result may be the same for each intermediate situation, but it
leads to you thinking differently. You don't think about building good
habits in this context.</p>
<p>A lot of you probably exercise (unlike me). Maybe you do it because it's
fun, but maybe you also do it because it only gets harder as you get older,
and you should get in the habit to keep it up. In that area, you get into
habits. But writing computer programs, we tell you about rules (don't have
concurrency violations), and I guess implicitly, we say that taking 61B is
good for you because you learn to write bigger programs. Still true --
still a practice with virtues.</p>
<p>Two things: that sort of professional standard of work is a pretty narrow
ethical issue. They don't teach you to worry about the privacy implications
of third parties. Also, when people say they have an ethical dilemma, they
think about it as a decision. A communitarian would reject all that ethical
dilemma stuff. Dilemmas will have bad outcomes regardless. Consider Greek
tragedies. When Oedipus finds himself married to his mother, it's like game
over. Whole series of bad things that happen to him. Not much he can do
about it on an incident by incident basis. Problem is a fatal flaw in his
character early on (as well as some ignorance), and no system of ethics is
going to lead Oedipus out of this trap. What you have to is try not to get
into traps, and you do that through prudence and honesty and whatnot.</p>
<p>Classic dilemma: Heins is a guy whose wife has a fatal disease that can be
cured by an expensive drug, but Heins is poor. So he goes to the druggist
and says that he can't afford to pay for this drug, but his wife is going
to die, so the druggist says no. So Heins is considering breaking into the
drugstore at night and stealing the drug so his wife can live. What should
he do and why? According to the literature, there's no right answer. What
matters is your reason.</p>
<p>I'm going to get this wrong, but it's something like this. Stage one: your
immediate needs are what matter. Yes, he should steal it, because it's his
wife, or no, he shouldn't steal it, because he should go to prison. Stage
two: something like worrying about consequences to individuals. Might hurt
druggist or might hurt his wife. Stage three: something like "well, I have
a closer relationship to my wife than the druggist; I care more about my
wife, so I should steal it". Stage four: it's against the law, and I
shouldn't break the law. Stage five: like stage three, generalized to
larger community: how much will it hurt my wife not to get the drug? A
lot. How much will it hurt the druggist if I steal it? Some money. Stage
six, based not on laws of community, but rather on the standards of the
community. Odd-numbered stages are about specific people. Even-numbered
stages are about society and rules (punishment if I do it to it's the law
to it's what people expect of me).</p>
<p>Right now I'm talking about the literature of moral psychology: people go
through these stages (different ways of thinking). Question posed is not
"how do people behave", but rather "how should people behave".</p>
<p>This is modern ethical reasoning. Take some situation that has no right
answer, and split hairs about finding a right answer somehow.</p>
<p>Talk about flying: checklist for novices. Instructors don't use this list:
eventually, you get to where you're looking at the entire dashboard at
once, and things that aren't right jump out at you.</p>
<p>Another example: take a bunch of chess pieces, put them on the board, get
someone to look at it for a minute, and take the pieces away, and ask the
person to reconstruct the board position. Non-chess players are terrible
(unsurprisingly); chess grandmasters can do it if it came out of a real
game; if you put it randomly, they're just as bad as the rest of
us. They're not looking at individual pieces; they're looking at the board
holistically (clusters of pieces that interact with each other).</p>
<p>Relevance to this about ethics: we don't always know why we do things. Very
rare that we have the luxury to figure out either what categorical
imperative tells us or utilitarian approach. Usually we just do something.</p>
<p>BH with weaknesses. Would be stronger if his education was less about
thinking things through and more about doing the right thing.</p>
<p>Our moral training is full of "Shalt Not"s. Lot more in the Bible about
what not to do than what to do or how to live the good life (that part of
the Bible -- gets better). We also have these laws. Hardly ever say you
have to do something (aside from paying taxes). Mostly say what you can't
do. Never say how to live the good life. BH thinks that serves us ill. Have
to make decisions. Often, what you do is different from what you say you
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