Global, Ethical, And Professional Issues in Computer Science
The field of Computer Science is in a nascent stage of development. As such, a number of critical ethical and professional issues with global repercussions currently plague the discipline. These issues have created a snowball effect by hindering the processes that the field computer science enables. The information that a country possesses and how it is electronically protected and secured from hacking attempts is of concern along with financial and medical institutions and its’ client information. Specifically, the major issues with global effect in the field of computer science are web security and cyber security challenges, ethical issues concerning robotic rights, issues of privacy and ethical practices regarding electronic commerce, and cloud computing security.
Collectively, these issues seek to undermine the streamlining of processes inherent in the innovation of these computer science developments. Issues concerning cyber security will potentially cost online retailers billions in lost revenue and identity theft issues may prevent online shoppers from engaging their favorite online shopping site, such as eBay. Robots and robotic intelligent machines are being developed and refined in computer science and robotics departments at academic institutions such as the M.I.T and at laboratories including I.B.M’s Research and Development facilities. Additional concerns include the protection of private and government or trade information that is not subject to public view. Such information leaks can be an expensive security mistake for the liable entity that had been hacked or exposed through weakness in their web security. And as more organizations decide to restructure their computing hardware to the ‘cloud’, security concerns of information sent to, created, or sent from the cloud may be compromised by hackers or spy’s looking to obtain private data for exploitation. The American Southwest, notably the Phoenix, AZ region known throughout the computer science world as the capital of identity theft, internet fraud, and computer/network hacking, and counterfeiting.
“In the U.S., President Barack Obama has named cyber security as “one of the most serious” challenges facing the nation.” (New Straits Times, 2009) the issue of cyber security has its anecdotal origin in the early 1980’s movie, War Games. In the movie, an adolescent computer hacker breaches national security to hack into the U.S. DoD military supercomputer designed to simulate outcomes of nuclear war games. Although the movie, not based on real events, the capacity for such a threat to occur in reality was not far-fetched. “Such threats — but done with full intent to cripple national computer networks — are possible scenarios many countries are preparing for.” (New Straits Times, 2009) the economic losses for it security breaches can be considerable. “The studies find substantial short-term drops in the prices of shares of firms following the announcement of an information security breach: between 1% and 5% of market capitalization, with greater losses (up to 15%) recorded by some financial institutions where attackers had gained access to confidential customer records.” (Cashell, Jackson, Jickling, Webel, 2004) “For the average New York Stock Exchange corporation, price drops of these magnitudes translate into shareholder of between $50 million and $200 million.” (Cashell, et al. 2004) “The key takeaway for corporate it decision makers is that it security breaches are extremely costly, and that the stock market has already factored in some level of optimal it security investment by companies.” (Garg, Curtis, Halper, 2003) Further studies determine the impact of security breaches to be a variable subject to differing effects. “Thus, stock market participants appear to discriminate across types of breaches when assessing their economic impact on affected firms. These findings are consistent with the argument that the economic consequences of information security breaches vary according to the nature of the underlying assets affected by the breach.” (Campbell, Gordon, Loeb, Zhou, 2003)
Web security breaches do vary in the type of breach, the manner, and the economic repercussions when considering the geographic region of the breach within an active global environment. Business domiciled within the United States typically with a web presence frequently suffer from security hacks into their system to obtain private customer financial and billing information. The U.S. dollar is worth considerably more on the open exchange market than say the Brazilian real and is therefore a greater target for surreptitious behavior. Although different from identity theft, the web security breach is identified as a breach in national security such that it is considered a cyber security attack on the United States. The difference in global cyber security attacks is the frequency and the nature of each attack. In China or Japan, the cyber attack is likely to obtain information regarding military information or private information regarding identifiable data of potential victims of fraud and framing.
Managers that track and monitor web security for breaches can implement a variety of security measures to mitigate the losses from potential security breaches. An email can be assigned to generate upon a computer port or access point protocol ping from an outside entity that the network deems ‘suspicious’. Generally, the problem is that the maintainers of the network do not know that a hacker has penetrated the system and is compromising valuable information from the company. Once the system is breached, the auto-generated email will bring attention to the breach by providing the pertinent technical network information that can identify the type and location of the attack. Additional measures include real-time firewall monitoring to ensure no failure in the firewall that can let a hacker pass without notice.
The ethical implications associated with the creation of a robot with artificial intelligence and possibly its own neural network are a debated topic. At the proliferation of research into robotics enables a future ripe with robotic servants and military robotic technological assistance provided by robotic intelligence, the concern of ethical issues regarding the use, treatment, and care provided to robots is increasing. The cost associated with refining the artificial intelligence to mitigate the potential for dangerous behavioral patterns is relatively high yet is considered a function in the rate of return and therefore is not projected negatively as a cost of ethical issues in robotics. “i.v. STATION’s $300,000 price, combined with its plug-and-play installation, flexibility of IV Bags/Vials/Syringes, ISO-5 controlled environment, and unprecedented robotic throughput, has already revolutionized Non-Hazardous Sterile Compounding in North America.” The implications are severe. The cost of this technology inherently is cost prohibitive for implementation across the total spectrum of health care in the U.S. The ethical component of essentially replacing parts of the nursing staff will remove the human care component, which is the backbone of the health industry. Robots as a replacement for humans that provide compassion when patients are in an emotionally and physically fragile state are a major ethical issue. Further ethical implications involve the level of autonomy that robots are expected to receive once the implementation and assimilation into human activity takes place. “In the relatively near future, and certainly sooner or later, the human species will be destroyed by advances in robotics technology that we can foresee from our current vantage point, at the start of the new millennium.” (Bringsjord, 2008)
Global differences with ethical parameters of robot design and societal use are generally in the pervasiveness of the uses for the robot. For instance, the Europeans are experimenting with robots as a control variable for public service. What this means is to have traffic command handled by robots rather than humans. In the U.S., the discussion is around the benefits that servant robots may be eligible to receive. The particular uses in the U.S. For robots include heavy implementation in the health care system to administer IV drops and additional care that was originally under the auspice of the nursing staff. Asia is experiencing a precipitous rise in the use of robotics in society. The concern of ethics is of less importance among the leaders of Asian government and politics.
Although tricky, managers can identify potential ethical violations of either robots as an entity or violations from robots against society and create a framework to handle identical issues in the future. An example that has been identified is if a robot malfunctions and unintentionally kills a human. Such a violation of ethical behavior is not currently the fault of the robot, but instead, of its creator. Managers have the authority to address issues critical to the development and improvement of robotic operations and decision-making to reduce the risk associated with artificial intelligence. Other avenues where managers will have considerable influence include ethical treatment of robots should development of a psyche and self-identification takes form to the robot. Managers can address these situations actively and facilitate a response to the robot that may prevent an outburst of irrational output.
Identity Theft and privacy issues associated with online commerce currently is at the forefront of web browsing and network security. The financial implications are severe as well. However, the courts are still undecided on how to proceed with identity theft cases and other privacy issues. “Whether, and to what extent, courts can hold a database possessor liable for damages suffered by data subjects as a result of improper data access are questions of huge importance.” (Johnson, 2005) the notion of ruling against the defendant in all identity theft or related cases may establish the wrong precedent for future cases. “On the other hand, if liability is too readily assessed, it will have the power to bankrupt valuable enterprises because of the often vast numbers of potential plaintiffs and consequent extensive resulting damages.” (Johnson, 2005)
Internet security and identity theft is a very pervasive problem globally. In fact, most every nation with a web presence must deal with the same issue of hackers breaching server security or web browser security and stealing identities or other destructive behavior with malicious intent. The United States has a much more serious issue in this realm, however, when compared to countries within Europe, Asia, Africa, Russia, and South America. Although the threat remains global and can affect any nation at any time, the probability of identity theft in America is greater than in other nations.
Managers involved with the development of web browsing, firewall protection, network intrusion detection, and additional online security measures have considerable influence in this area. In fact, management by-and-large has failed the consumer in this area. The level of protection enabled by online retail security and the vendors contracted to secure the business transaction side has been breached continuously by hackers, which ostensibly puts security behind the ability of the hacker. Managers can do a more effective job of determining the factors most prevalent to the beach of network security, online secure web browsers, and to password protected databases that are designed to prevent unlawful intrusion leading to identity or data theft.
Could Computing has emerged as a nascent field in the computer science discipline. “Clouds are all the rage today, promising convenience, elasticity, transparency, and economy. The history of computing since the 1960s can be viewed as a continuous move toward ever greater specialization and distribution of computing resources.” (Anthes, 2010) However, issues of security still shroud the cloud and skeptics of this form of computing are wary of promoting its use as a viable medium to conduct business. “IBM Research is pursuing a similar approach called ‘virtual machine (VM) introspection’. It puts security inside a protected VM running on the same physical machine as the ultimate security measure, but it also presents difficulties in the cloud.” (Anthes, 2010) the considerable amount of security risks associated with cloud computing is known to industry experts. “Customers must demand transparency, avoiding vendors that refuse to provide detailed information on security programs.” (Brodkin, 2008) “The tremendous growth of the Web over the last decade has given rise to a new ‘Web-scale’ problems — challenges such as supporting thousands of concurrent e-commercial transactions or millions of search queries a day.” (Jaeger, Lin, Grimes, Simmons, 2009) Additionally, “users also have concerns about cloud providers use of their information, 90% would be very concerned if their data were sold to other companies, 80% if their data were used in marketing campaigns, 68% if their data were used to display ads related to their files, 63% if their data were kept after they tried to delete, and 49% if their data were given to law enforcement agencies.” (Horrigan, 2008) “A study of ‘Total Economic Impact’ reported by Forrester Consulting further indicates the potential return on investment could be up to three hundred percents 7.4 months after adoption.” (Wang, 2010)
Cloud computing is developing at somewhat of a slower rate in Europe rather than in the U.S. while Asia trails. “The 451 Group’s William Fellows in a “Cloud Outlook 2010” Webcast, says that 57% of spending on cloud computing is done in the U.S., 31% in Europe and 12% in Asia. (Babcock, 2010) Small businesses dominate the foreign landscape in Europe where cloud computing may have more of a niche’ market than in the U.S. Asian businesses are also largely small businesses that can enable cloud computing solutions at a faster marginal rate of adaptability rather the U.S. The parameters in the uses of cloud also vary from nation to nation, as it and commerce are the main uses for cloud in nations outside of the U.S. where services and business to business is the main use for cloud in the U.S.
Managers can minimize potential cloud violations by integrating a comprehensive security strategy to their solution rather than outsourcing the security protection to a third-party vendor. Further security measures involving real-time notification to the client and vendor when a security breach is detected will prevent egregious data loss from hackers whilst improving the probability of catching or tracing the hacker.
The computer science discipline is engaging an environment unlike any other. Since computers handle digital information that is processed in real-time and connected to machines that interpret this digital information, the issues associated with preventing malicious attacks and intent from occurring is increasingly important to it and Technology managers. Web Security issues are somewhat related identity theft problems, which are faced by businesses and addressed by the human capital and technology it employs. The future for web security and identity theft issues appears to be more prolific for Asian countries and those that make up BRIC, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, and China due to their expanding economy and increasing wealth of its population. Additionally, ethical issues arising from the development and use of robotics will reshape the next 15 years of artificial intelligence and robotics research, notably in England and at prestigious university’s in the U.S. Ethics in robotics is a new topic in law review literature and the future will increase the body of law and ethics knowledge with urgent regard. And cloud computing remains rather foggy in determining the future with respect to its relevant security issues. The move within management consulting circles is to expand the use of cloud to replace the expensive initial cost and maintenance of physical hardware such as servers and network topology. The future of cloud is only limited by its ability to provide absolute security to its clients.
Anthes, G. (2010) Security in the Cloud. Association for Computing Machinery. Communications of the ACM, 53(11), 16. Retrieved December 14, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 2198161791).
Babcock, C. (2010) Cloud Computing Differences Between U.S. And Europe. Information Week. Retrieved from: http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/cloud-saas/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=224202598
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Campbell K., Gordon L., Loeb M., Zhou L. The economic cost of publicly announced information security breaches: empirical evidence from the stock market. Journal of Computer Security Vol.11 Number 3/2003 pgs 431-448
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Bringsjord, S.. (2008). Ethical robots: the future can heed us. AI & Society, 22(4), 539-550. Retrieved December 14, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1467786371).
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