I have written a book titled “The More Things Change: A Case Study to Introduce Information Technology Ethics.” I felt people needed a fictional story to help them understand how ethics questions come up in the day to day life of a programmer. For this story, I set it in Manitoba in the 1980s but some things have not changed since those days, and the privacy issues that the protagonist, Carol, struggles within the story could still happen today.
The good news is that IT ethics issues are becoming more visible. CBC radio recently ran a segment titled “Why computer science students are demanding more ethics classes.”
In the segment, Nora Young interviews Shannon Vallor who teaches ethics and emerging technology at Santa Clara University. Shannon Vallor talks about her students and says:
“Primarily, I’m teaching them to think more critically and more reflectively about the kinds of social, political and moral challenges that are emerging from new technologies and what kinds of resources as individuals, as members of organizations and industries, and as citizens of a democratic society they will need, in order to manage those challenges wisely and well.”
Unfortunately, the segment also makes the statement that “In Canada, computer science students aren’t generally required to take ethics courses.” For decades now, CIPS has made ethics training a requirement for any program that is accredited with it. There are more than 25 universities in Canada and many more colleges and institutions that have multiple programs accredited through CIPS. Canadian IT students take ethics courses.
Despite this, I give presentations about IT Ethics and often get questions afterward asking “What does all this philosophy mean to me?” My book makes ethics as approachable as a fictional novel. It is a bit nostalgic about some old technologies and introduces some people and internal office politics that may feel familiar.
“The More Things Change: A Case Study to Introduce Information Technology Ethics” is available from Benchmark Press and on Amazon.ca.