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A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and

Ethical Issues for Computers and the


Internet

A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 1: Unwrapping the Gift 1


The Ubiquity of Computers and the Rapid
Pace of Change
Have you used a computer today?
You have if you used…
• an ATM,
• a CD-player,
• a cell phone,
• a modern appliance, or
• an electronic device.

A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 1: Unwrapping the Gift 2


Examining the Gift: An Introduction to
Some Issues and Themes
Issues
Some Negative Impacts of New Technology:
• Unemployment.
• Poor Customer Service.
• Crime.
• Loss of Privacy.
• Errors.

Q: Which negative aspects of new technology have you experienced?


A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 1: Unwrapping the Gift 3
Examining the Gift: An Introduction to
Some Issues and Themes
Issues
Some Positive Impacts of New Technology:
• Convenience.
• New types of jobs.
• More options for transactions.
• Improvements in crime-fighting.
• Small error rate.

Q: Which positive aspects of new technology have you experienced?


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Examining the Gift: An Introduction to
Some Issues and Themes
Issues
Sources for Solutions to Problems:
• Technology.
• Management.
• Law.
• Education.
• The market.

Q: Describe how one of the above provides a solution to a problem


created by new technology.

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Appreciating the Benefits

Benefits of Computer Applications


• Development of better peripheral devices.
• Time-saving.
• Cost-saving.
• Less effort than older technologies.
• Development of better sound quality.
• Creation of computer-generated art and special effects.
• Improved accuracy.
• Improved customer service/satisfaction.
• Entertainment/fun.

Q: How have these benefits aided your peers?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Benefits Computers Bring to Communication


• Time-saving.
• Access to vast amounts of information.
• Text, graphics, and sound can be combined.
• Much information on WWW is free.
• Public forums not limited to geographic boundaries.
• More independence.
• More options for communicating.
• Remote access available.
• Traditional boundaries are no obstacle.

Q: How have these benefits aided small business?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Benefits Computers Bring to Transportation


• Navigation.
• Diagnostics.
• Safety.
• Efficiency of fuel-burning.
• Traffic pattern studies.

Q: How have these benefits aided your community?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Benefits Computers Bring to Education and


Training
• Language acquisition.
• Spelling.
• Literacy.
• Distance learning.
• Modeling.
• Simulations.
• Speech recognition.
• Speech synthesis.

Q: How have these benefits aided local schools?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Benefits of Computers in Fighting Crime


• Improved crime reporting.
• Faster search of arrest records and fingerprint files.
• Remote access to records and reports, e.g. from patrol cars.
• Enhancement of records (fingerprints and photos).
• Access to numerous databases.

Q: How are computers used to fight crime in your community?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Benefits Computers Bring to Medicine


• Sophisticated imaging.
• Reduced surgery time.
• Patient monitoring.
• Early ambulation.
• Improved treatments.
• Fewer errors.

Q: How does your doctor make use of computers?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Patient Records
• More legible.
• Better organized.
• Accessible by many sites, simultaneously.
• Available immediately.
• Improved statistical research.

Q: How does your medical clinic use computers?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Medical Diagnosing
• Streamlined diagnosis.
• Improved accuracy.
• Improved screening and predictions.

Q: How might the chronically ill benefit from computer-aided diagnosing?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Telemedicine
• Broad access to medical help.
• Less expensive.
• Expands consultations beyond rural/remote sites.

Q: How might the military use telemedicine?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Benefits Computers Bring to the Disabled


• Control of household and workplace appliances.
• Mobility.
• Control of artificial limbs.
• Improved vision.
• Access to adaptive educational equipment.
• Improved communication.
• Opportunity to return to work.

Q: How are computers benefiting the disabled in your school or workplace?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Benefits Computers Bring to Automation


• Organize and access large inventories.
• Improved customer satisfaction.
• Cost-saving.
• Time-saving.
• Tedious, monotonous work done by machine.
• Improved workplace safety.

Q: What task would you like replaced by an automated system?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Benefits Computers Bring to Identification


• Time-saving.
• Accuracy.
• Ease-of-use.
• Cost-saving.
• More secure.
• Reliable.

Q: How are computers used to identify you at school or work?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Computers Monitor Environment and Materials


• Temperature.
• Acceleration.
• Stress in materials.
• Emissions.
• Dangerous substances in the air.
• Moisture.
• Acidity.

Q: How might tree farmers use computers to monitor their crops?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Applications of Computers in Tracking


• Rare plants and animals.
• Migration habits.
• Stolen goods.
• Lost pets or people.

Q: How might scientists track Antarctic ice floes?


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Appreciating the Benefits

Benefits of Computers in Reducing Paper Use


and Trash
• Send/receive digital documents instead of hardcopy.
• Read, write, and edit online.
• Cost-saving; smaller storage needed.
• Creation of toxic wastes at paper mills reduced.

Q: Have computers reduced paper use in your school or workplace?


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