COSC244 Ethics Assignment 2017

Due Thursday the 21st of September

Required Reading

Begin by reading the Guardian article “How Can We Stop Algorithms Telling Lies”.

In case that link disappears, there is a local copy as a PDF as well, but you should go to the original if possible.

What to do

Submit a report, with the paper number, your name, and your student ID on the front page, as a PDF file. The method is explained below.

There are four (imaginary) people. You are to say, in about half a page each, what each person should do, according to the IITP Codes. Each analysis is worth 1% of your mark for this course, a total of 4%. You must give the section numbers in the IITP Codes that justify your answers; failing to do so in any answer will cost you half of the marks for that question. If you think the IITP is wrong, state your own position, but cite the IITP as well.

There are no set answers that you must match. The task is to apply the Codes, not to come up with the proper decisions.

The four people

  1. Robin Radonich is a 26-year-old lecturer in a Computer Science department. She votes Green. She has a fresh PhD in Deep Learning and is keen to make a good reputation for herself doing both theoretical and applied research. She is married. She and her husband don't have any children yet, but they both have student loans to pay off and a mortgage they can just afford. It's really important to them that she should do well in her career.

    She has just been approached by a transport company who would like her to see how well a Deep Learning algorithm can predict driver and customer behaviour.

  2. Pavle Pesa is a 45-year-old “quant” working for a large bank. He is divorced, and is paying enough in alimony and child support that he really cannot afford to lose his job. He votes Labour, hoping that they will remember to protect workers.

    His current task is to improve the algorithm that decides whether a customer should be offered a loan or not and under what conditions.

  3. Sanja Salopek is a 45-year-old middle manager at a children's toy manufacturer. She is a widow with two children at school and one at Polytech. She votes National and is very keen on law-and-order issues, because she is concerned about the safety of her children.

    Her responsibility is the software for their range of internet-connected toys. One feature of these toys is speech recognition: if a child says “I hate broccoli”, the toy might reply “What about cauliflower?”. The toys are always on. She is currently in talks with the Police about using them to watch out for signs of child abuse and domestic violence, which we all agree are bad things. But one of the Police officials accidentally let slip that they would like to catch drug names too.

  4. Finally, there's you. (Pretend that) You've just been hired by a supermarket to develop software tracking the activity of employees.


Submit a report, with the paper number, your name, and your student ID on the front page, as a PDF file. Put your report in a directory containing no other PDFs and then enter the command


in a terminal inside that directory. You will be asked to confirm that the correct file is being submitted and then the message “Submission complete” will be printed.