CSI2911 Professional Practice in Computing


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CSI2911 Professional Practice in Computing

  1. 1. CSI2911 Professional Practice in Computing Pratique professionnelle de l'informatique TOPIC E Social Responsibility in Computing and Miscellaneous Issues
  2. 2. Computers and the Environment 1 <ul><li>Hardware should be made in the ‘greenest’ way possible </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lowest possible energy input to manufacturing process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoidance or reduced use of dangerous or depleted substances </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Arsenic - used in displays to prevent defects </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mercury - used in flourescent backlights for displays </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lead - formerly used in CRT’s; still used in some solder </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hexavelent Chromium, Cadmium and other heavy metals </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Banned by RoHS rules (Restrictions on Hazardous Substances) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Computers and the Environment 2 <ul><li>Standardized and replaceable components to avoid wastage </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Universal power adapter / charger, standard batteries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>EU will be mandating USB connectors to charge all cell phones </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recyclable materials and design for recyclability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoidance of design for obsolescence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Responsible waste disposal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Take-it-back policies and campaigns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bounties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cash for clunkers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Refund of deposits when an item reaches the end of its life </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoiding shipping e-waste to developing countries for disposal </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Computers and the Environment 3 <ul><li>Hardware and software that economizes on energy use </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoidance of DC-power adapters that are always using ‘phantom power’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It is possible to preserve state with a battery and ‘switch’ transformer on only when needed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Switching off and slowing down circuits, displays, etc. that are not in use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adaptive, efficient, power-aware algorithms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Power-aware distributed computing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Run compute-intensive tasks where power is cheaper and/or where wind and solar power is currently being generated </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Computers and the Environment 4 <ul><li>Focusing on the web’s use of power </li></ul><ul><ul><li>YouTube is expected to be losing $470m per year largely due to the huge costs of storing and delivering massive amounts of video </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/may/03/internet-carbon-footprint </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In 2006, data centres and the Internet were estimated to be using 1.5% of all electricity in the US </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Growing 10% per year </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Computers and the Environment 5 <ul><li>Green /social accounting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accounting for environmental costs, not just financial costs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Inventing computing technology to support other green initiatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Smart grid </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitoring and distributing power better, so solar, wind and other local green power sources can be more effectively used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Software to improve energy efficiency of vehicles and other energy-consuming devices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Software for environmental modelling to help improve scientific understanding of climate change </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Social responsibility <ul><li>The theory that any entity has a responsibility to society at large </li></ul><ul><li>Many groups of professionals have formed social responsibility groups </li></ul><ul><li>For our field, one example is Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http: //cpsr .org </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Another worthy organization is Engineers Without Borders </li></ul>
  8. 8. Social responsibility issues 1 <ul><li>Corporate social responsibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beyond just obeying the law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Avoiding creating products or services whose main intent will lead to social harm, or selling potentially harmful products to questionable entities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Tools for violating privacy </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Avoiding exploitation at manufacturing plants and software development sites in developing countries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Involvement of corporations in community-based projects </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Social responsibility issues 2 <ul><li>Availability of technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To developing countries and the poor (The Digital Divide) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Helping train local people </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Providing them with basic technology and internet access </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This used to be a much greater problem before the recent rapid uptake of cellular phones into developing countries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But many landlocked countries in Africa still lack good Internet access </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Access to computers is still low (as is access to books) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To rural areas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. ensuring there is broadband and cellular coverage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To schools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. One laptop per child program </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Education can help bring children out of poverty </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To the disabled </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ensuring software designs follow accessibility guidelines </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Social responsibility issues 3 <ul><li>Internet and computer addiction and isolation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The more people use the Internet or spend time gaming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The more they lose contact with their ‘real’ social environment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Or is it a different form of contact? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>People who might be considered ‘socially awkward’ can often have personally fulfilling interaction through the Internet </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Second Life / Facebook </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The less they use traditional media </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The more time they spend working (at the office and home) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The more at risk they are of becoming addicted </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Internet Addiction Disorder </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>See http://www.netaddiction.com/ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is working on a computer more isolating than reading a book </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>An activity that is usually applauded? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Social responsibility issues 4 <ul><li>Computers and children </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How much should children be exposed to computers and the Internet? At what ages? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bad effects: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Kids can learn many bad things from the open internet </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>They can become addicted to the web and/or games </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good effects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Higher test scores, especially for under-priveleged children </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>See http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/04/internet-use.aspx </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Social responsibility issues 5 <ul><li>Free and open-source software </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Availability of this has stimulated for-profit enterprises to lower prices and improve quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourages availability for the disadvantaged </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces monopoly by companies and countries </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Social responsibility issues 6 <ul><li>Pro-bono donation of time of computer experts to the disadvantaged and to charities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing for local charities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>International development, e.g. Engineers without Borders </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Social responsibility issues 7 <ul><li>Women in computing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Computing is one of the industries with the lowest fraction of women </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Using of computing for peaceful means only </li></ul><ul><li>Voting technology and promotion of democracy and civil society </li></ul><ul><li>Internet governance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ICANN - still under US government control </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Social responsibility issues 8 <ul><li>Promotion of freedom of speech and related rights </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opposition to censorship in certain countries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Net neutrality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cryptome and Wikileaks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Revealing questionable information Electronic rights </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.eff.org/ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Main issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bloggers and coders rights </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Opposition to digital rights management, software patents </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Promotion of privacy and transparency </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Risks of catastrophic failures: Computer professionals must beware! (1) <ul><li>Major industries may be brought down for short or long periods by IT failures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Food distribution, energy, transportation, communications, finance and markets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In other words, everything society depends on </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>IT failures causing this may result from: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Natural or man-made disasters taking out computing infrastructure we have come to depend on </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design flaws </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hacking and cyber warfare </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A combination of the above </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Risks of catastrophic failures: Computer professionals must beware! (2) <ul><li>The risks of large-scale catastrophe are small on a day-to-day basis, but large in the long run </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dependency on IT and computing is growing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complexity is growing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some types of threats (e.g. hacking) are growing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There is a risk of cascading effects: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some failures (e.g. energy) lead to others (e.g. telecom and food distribution) leading to isolated or more widespread social breakdown </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Low short-term risk, but tremendously high costs means vigilance and action is imperative </li></ul>
  18. 18. Single point of failure: GPS <ul><li>The GPS System may become unavailable or dramatically less reliable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In one area or around the world </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Causes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jamming, solar flares </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Failure of satellites from various causes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>US government withdrawal of service in a crisis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What can fail </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Military and civilian navigation, emergency response, delivery of products and services </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remediation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Backups such as inertial navigation with dead reckoning and visual identification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of Russian or EU (Galileo) system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing use of LORAN (which US no longer supports) </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Single point of failure: Electricity systems controlled by computers <ul><li>Increased software control could lead to cascading failure </li></ul><ul><li>Causes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design errors, and hacking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magnetic storms, ice storms, heat waves etc. leading to cascading overloads </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Breakdown in markets, perhaps caused by fuel shortages or price increases </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What can fail </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All of industrial and domestic power supply </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hence computers, telecom, etc. once backup sources run out </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This has happened </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remediation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fail-safe islanding of grid </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secondary independent control system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Backup power sources for critical infrastructure </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Single point of failure: Grounding of all vehicles of a given type due to software glitch <ul><li>As vehicles become more software-driven, life threatening vulnerabilities may be discovered </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. the Toyota acceleration problem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. fly-by-wire in airplanes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. millions of vehicles becomoing prone to hacking </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consequences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Millions of people or businesses being forced off the road </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chaos in airlines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Causes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design errors, hacking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Time to fix may be lengthy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Remediation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fail-safe backup systems </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Single point of failure: Electronic banking, finance and market system failures <ul><li>Banks, credit card networks, stock trading, and similar systems go down or suffer data breaches </li></ul><ul><li>Consequences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Temporary interruption of many types of business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Market crashes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of private information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of records of transactions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remediation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternative markets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Accounts in different institutions </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Single point of failure: Air traffic control failures <ul><li>Many small-scale examples of this have occurred </li></ul><ul><li>Causes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bugs, power outages, hacking, upgrade failures, network failures, radar jamming, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remediation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Protocols for scaling back flights </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A backup system that works and is regularly tested and used </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In the long run we may have control systems for road vehicles subject to similar modes of failure </li></ul>
  23. 23. Single point of failure: Zero-day vulnerabilities in major OS’s, websites etc. <ul><li>For example, a new vulnerability is found and exploited by a virulent ‘worm’ </li></ul><ul><li>Causes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Latent design flaws coupled with hacking or cyber-warfare </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consequences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Systems of many kinds go down </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remediation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid consumer operating systems in critical infrastructure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use heterogeneous tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have backup tools, and use them regularly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Back up data, and test backups </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Single point of failure: Cellular and general telecom system failures <ul><li>Communications we rely on for many aspects of business fail </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We have seen many small-scale examples </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Causes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hacking, design flaws, cable cuts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consequences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emergency response fails, businesses shut down, Internet shuts down or becomes degraded </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remediation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintain landline and mobile as alternatives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interconnects between providers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity of underlying technologies </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Single point of failure: Robots or AI systems run amok <ul><li>A favourite scenario in sci-fi </li></ul><ul><li>A realistic possibility in the more-distant future </li></ul><ul><ul><li>With advances in technology it seems certain that within 50 or 100 or at least 200 years, computers and robots will be more intelligent than us </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What will this mean for society? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Can we and should we do anything in preparation? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Engineers are working hard to enable robots to interact appropriately with humans </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. not too much force when in physical contact </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Azimov’s laws of Robotics: Fiction, yet a good basis for discussion of risks <ul><li>1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But how is a robot to know what will necessarily harm a human </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How is a robot to know whether there would be any conflict </li></ul></ul><ul><li>3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. </li></ul>