Write an essay where you provide support for a particular position on an ethical issue in ICT. The issue must be selected from a list of topics provided on the Unit Moodle site.

The essay must include the following:

  1. Hypothesis or thesis statement
  2. Explanation or background of the issue/problem
  3. Arguments for the affirmative (that is, supporting your position on the thesis)
  4. Arguments for the negative (that is, objections to your position)
  5. Conclusion, including why the affirmative outweighs the negative
  6. Recommendations of actions to take (that is, what the reader should do if they agree with you and/or what others should do)

The arguments should include analysis using at least one workable ethical theory (e.g. Kantianism, Act Utilitarianism, Rule Utilitarianism, Social Contract Theory, Virtue Ethics). That is, select one of the workable ethical theories and analyse the issue using the selected theory.

References must be used to support the arguments.


There is no mandatory format for the essay, however consider the following guidelines:

  • Include your name, student ID(s0276815) and the selected topic title.
  • Use section headings to guide the reader.
  • The minimum suggested length is 1200 words and the maximum suggested length is 1800 words. Unless they are very well written, essays outside of these suggested lengths most likely do not have sufficient depth (too short) or conciseness (too long).

You may use the example template Word document (docx), although it is not required.


You must submit one (1) Microsoft Word document (docx or doc) on Moodle. Late submissions will be penalised at a rate of 5% per part of day.

Marking Criteria

See the marking sheet (updated 11 Aug 2017).

Topic List

The ethical issue you select must be related to one of the following topics. If you want to consider a different topic you must ask the Unit Coordinator at least two weeks before the deadline, and if they agree, they will add the new topic to this list. Any essays on topics not listed below will be penalised.

Note that the following topics may have multiple ethical issues associated with them. You are allowed to choose any ethical issue relevant to the topic and description given below.

  1. Information Accuracy and Automation. Software and algorithms are being used to analyse large amounts of information, and produce summary data (e.g. news summarisation). Should the use of the summary data be restricted in some domains? E.g. trading stocks, deciding sentences in court, making government policy or new laws.
  2. Market Domination. Several large companies have dominant market positions in important technologies, e.g. Google with search, Facebook with social networking, Microsoft with operating systems and office software. Should these dominant players be restricted (by laws, policies)?
  3. Robots and relationships. Robots are being used to assist humans, not just physically but emotionally (e.g. elder care, therapy, entertainment). Should robots be used in place of humans in these areas? Are there limits on how robots should be used for psychological/emotional support?
  4. Robots and warfare. Robotics and AI technology is advancing such that fully autonomous robotic weapons will be likely in the near future. Should such weapons be allowed?
  5. Self-driving cars. Should self-driving cars be allowed on the streets? If the technology for self-driving cars is well developed, at what point in time should non-self-driving cars be banned?
  6. Surveillance. Computer vision and other AI software may be used to identify suspicious activities or persons (e.g. in a city, at sporting events). Should such techniques be used to detain people? What limits should be placed on the software (e.g. could it be programmed to identify race)?
  7. Gray Hat Hackers. Should people be able to test security of computer systems without repercussions if they have no malicious intent?
  8. Vulnerability Disclosure. What is a good disclosure policy? Who should be help responsible for vulnerabilities if they are disclosed but not fixed?
  9. Wiretapping and eavesdropping. Technology is widely available to easily record communications of other parties, especially with WiFi networks (e.g. mobile phones apps that record other peoples WiFi communications). Who should (not) be allowed to use such technology and under what conditions? Law enforcement? Employers? General public (e.g. recording and viewing neighbours WiFi traffic)?
  10. Drones and Privacy. Personal drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) equipped with high resolution cameras are relatively cheap and readily available. What limits should be placed on the use of such drones with respect to privacy? E.g. should you be allowed to fly and record video over your neighbours backyard?


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