Towards the generalisation of a case-based aiding system to facilitate the understanding of ethical and professional issues in computing




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


Modern computers endow users of Information and Computer Technology (ICT) with immense power. The speed of the computing revolution has enabled the novel implementation of ICT before consideration of consequent ethical issues can be made. There is now a demand by society that students, ICT novices, and professionals should be aware of the social, legal, and professional issues associated with ubiquitous use of computers. This thesis describes the development of an Internet-based tool that may be used to raise students' awareness of the ethical implications of ICT. It investigates the application, meaning, and scope of computer ethics. Theoretical foundations are developed for the construction of the tool that will classify, store, and retrieve a suitable analogous case from a collection of realworld, ethically analysed ICT case studies. These are used for comparison with ethically dubious events that may be experienced by students. The model draws upon the theoretical aspects of mechanisms for the modification of users' ethical perception. This research is novel in linking these theories to ethical understanding and case retrieval. Little information is available upon the retrieval of documents addressing ethical issues. The classification and retrieval of material using an ethical framework has some commonality with legal retrieval. Similarities are investigated, and concepts are adapted for the retrieval of ethical documents. The differences that arise present challenges for new research. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) retrieval techniques is not acceptable to meet the pedagogic aims of the retrieval tool. A model is developed, avoiding the use of AI in the reasoning process, requiring the student to consider and evaluate the ethical issues raised. The model is tested and evaluated. The research suggests that non-AI paradigms may be used for retrieval of ethical cases, and that areas for future investigation and development exist.





Research Institute