Computing and Technology Ethics

Engaging through Science Fiction

by Burton, Goldsmith, Mattei, Siler, Swiatek

ISBN: 9780262374286 | Copyright 2023

Click here to preview

Instructor Requests

Digital Exam/Desk Copy Print Desk Copy Ancillaries

A new approach to teaching computing and technology ethics using science fiction stories.

Should autonomous weapons be legal? Will we be cared for by robots in our old age? Does the efficiency of online banking outweigh the risk of theft? From communication to travel to medical care, computing technologies have transformed our daily lives, for better and for worse. But how do we know when a new development comes at too high a cost? Using science fiction stories as case studies of ethical ambiguity, this engaging textbook offers a comprehensive introduction to ethical theory and its application to contemporary developments in technology and computer science.

Computing and Technology Ethics first introduces the major ethical frameworks: deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, communitarianism, and the modern responses of responsibility ethics, feminist ethics, and capability ethics. It then applies these frameworks to many of the modern issues arising in technology ethics including privacy, computing, and artificial intelligence. A corresponding anthology of science fiction brings these quandaries to life and challenges students to ask ethical questions of themselves and their work.

•Uses science fiction case studies to make ethics education engaging and fun
•Trains students to recognize, evaluate, and respond to ethical problems as they arise
•Features anthology of short stories from internationally acclaimed writers including Ken Liu, Elizabeth Bear, Paolo Bacigalupi, and T. C. Boyle to animate ethical challenges in computing technology
•Written by interdisciplinary author team of computer scientists and ethical theorists
•Includes a robust suite of instructor resources, such as pedagogy guides, story frames, and reflection questions

Expand/Collapse All
Contents (pg. v)
Acknowledgments (pg. xvii)
Part One. Textbook (pg. 1)
Chapter 1. Why Ethics? Why Science Fiction? (pg. 3)
Learning Objectives (pg. 3)
1.1 Introduction (pg. 3)
1.2 What Does It Mean to Say, “Is it Ethical . . .”? (pg. 5)
1.3 Why Study Ethics? (pg. 8)
1.4 Why Think about Technology and Ethics Together? (pg. 12)
1.5 Why Use Science Fiction to Study Ethics? (pg. 16)
1.6 Professional Ethics and Guidelines (pg. 19)
1.7 Thinking with Ethical Frameworks (pg. 20)
1.8 Life after Ethics Class (pg. 20)
1.9 The Rest of This Book (pg. 21)
Reflection Questions (pg. 22)
References Cited in This Chapter (pg. 23)
Chapter 2. Ethical Frameworks (pg. 25)
Learning Objectives (pg. 25)
2.1 Introduction (pg. 25)
2.2 Deontology (pg. 30)
2.3 Virtue Ethics (pg. 43)
2.4 Communitarianism (pg. 55)
2.5 Utilitarianism (pg. 68)
2.6 Contemporary Developments in Ethics (pg. 79)
2.7 Concluding Remarks: The Importance of Multiple Frameworks (pg. 87)
Reflection Questions (pg. 87)
Background References and Additional Reading (pg. 89)
References Cited in This Chapter (pg. 90)
Chapter 3. Managing Knowledge (pg. 99)
Learning Objectives (pg. 99)
3.1 Introduction (pg. 99)
3.2 The Things We Know Are Not Value Neutral (pg. 102)
3.4 Automated Decision-Making Systems and Bias (pg. 117)
3.5 Storing Knowledge Outside Ourselves: How Does It Affect Us as Individuals? (pg. 123)
3.6 Storing Knowledge Outside Ourselves: How Does It Affect Our Communities? (pg. 127)
3.7 Closing Thoughts: Knowledge and Selfhood (pg. 133)
Reflection Questions (pg. 134)
References Cited in This Chapter (pg. 135)
Chapter 4. Personhood and Privacy (pg. 141)
Learning Objectives (pg. 141)
4.1 Introduction (pg. 142)
4.2 What Is Personhood? Defining the Question (pg. 144)
4.3 Personhood and Technology (pg. 156)
4.4 The Powers and Limits of Definitions (pg. 170)
4.5 Privacy and Personhood (pg. 170)
4.6 Bringing It All Together: Privacy, Information Technology, and Personhood (pg. 188)
4.7 Concluding Remarks (pg. 193)
Reflection Questions (pg. 194)
Background References and Additional Reading (pg. 195)
References Cited in This Chapter (pg. 195)
Chapter 5. Technology and Society (pg. 203)
Learning Objectives (pg. 203)
5.1 Introduction (pg. 203)
5.2 Technology: Problematizing the Concept (pg. 208)
5.3 Introducing Science and Technology Studies (pg. 216)
5.4 Analyzing Sociotechnical Systems (pg. 218)
5.5 Technology in Context: Social Spheres (pg. 230)
5.6 Closing Thoughts: Maintaining a Broad View (pg. 262)
Reflection Questions (pg. 263)
Background References and Additional Reading (pg. 264)
References Cited in This Chapter (pg. 265)
Chapter 6. Professional Ethics (pg. 279)
Learning Objectives (pg. 279)
6.1 Introduction (pg. 279)
6.2 Professions (pg. 280)
6.3 Codes of Ethics (pg. 290)
6.4 Some Suggestions on Making Ethical Decisions in Practice (pg. 302)
6.5 Codes of Ethics, Ethical Thinking, and Your Professional Life (pg. 305)
Reflection Questions (pg. 307)
Background References and Additional Reading (pg. 309)
References Cited in This Chapter (pg. 309)
Part Two. Anthology (pg. 313)
Introduction to the Story Bank (pg. 315)
A Few Suggestions for Reading the Stories (pg. 317)
A Story Isn’t Reducible to the Ideas It Contains (pg. 317)
Stories Don’t Have Answers (pg. 318)
Some Important Questions Will Remain Unresolvable—and That’s a Feature! (pg. 319)
Suggested Story Points (pg. 319)
“Dolly,” by Elizabeth Bear (pg. 323)
“Message in a Bottle,” by Nalo Hopkinson (pg. 337)
“The Gambler,” by Paolo Bacigalupi (pg. 353)
“The Regression Test,” by Wole Talabi (pg. 375)
“Apologia,” by Vajra Chandrasekera (pg. 385)
“Asleep at the Wheel,” by T. Coraghessan Boyle (pg. 391)
“Codename: Delphi,” by Linda Nagata (pg. 405)
“Here-and-Now,” by Ken Liu (pg. 415)
“Lacuna Heights,” by Theodore McCombs (pg. 421)
“Not Smart, Not Clever,” by E. Saxey (pg. 435)
“Today I Am Paul,” by Martin L. Shoemaker (pg. 449)
“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse (pg. 461)
Index (pg. 477)

Emanuelle Burton

Emanuelle Burton is a Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois Chicago, where she teaches courses in ethics.

Judy Goldsmith

Judy Goldsmith is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Kentucky.

Nicholas Mattei

Nicholas Mattei is Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Tulane University.

Cory Siler

Cory Siler is a Graduate Research Assistant in the Narrative Intelligence Lab at the University of Kentucky.

Sara-Jo Swiatek

Sara-Jo Swiatek earned her PhD in ethics from the University of Chicago.

Instructors Only
You must have an instructor account and submit a request to access instructor materials for this book.
Go paperless today! Available online anytime, nothing to download or install.


  • Bookmarking
  • Note taking
  • Highlighting