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Discuss the social and ethical issues associated with the introduction of new IT systems.


Teaching Note:

AIM 8, AIM 9 Develop an appreciation of the social and ethical issues associated with continued developments in specified computer systems.


Sample Question:


JSR Notes:

Summary of Topic 1 "Moral/Ethical etc. IT Issues" Assessment Statements:
1.2.3 - how IT in a "networked world" adversely affects us
1.2.11 - the affects of new IT systems on stakeholders
1.2.16 - the affect of robots and AI


See 1.2.3 for more social and ethical issues related to our "networked world". But this is about implementing new systems, so though there may be a little overlap, they really are two different assessment statement. Be careful on an exam to keep both of these straight in your mind, and answer the question being asked.

Also, with this assessment statement taken the way it is, it is a general topic. But you should also be prepared to a specific situation/scenario.


I. Potential Social Issues
when introducing new systems

A. Forcing Technologies on People Who Don't Want Them

There are times where the system being implemented is the first time an IT solution has been presented for a particular scenario.

So, for starters, people may simply be quite happy with their non-IT solution, and not want to change. The reasons for not wanting to swicth include:

But you also need to keep in mind that there are real reasons for everyone to fear the incrase of all of the potential negative effects that IT systems, in general, could bring. This was covered in "Living in a Networked World" (1.2.3), and includes, but is not limited to:

B. Increasing the "Digital Divide" with reduced Equality of Access

The introduction of IT systems can lead to disparities in the use of, and access to, information technologies. There is can be a division:

C. People vs. Machines

There are two main concerns here: the loss of jobs, and machines (and AI in particular) taking the place of humans.

D. Privacy and anonymity

It is important when implementing an IT system that issues of privacy and anonymity be balanced where they can be influenced.


II. Potential Ethical Issues
when introducing new IT systems

A. Intellectual property

It is important that in the implementation of the new system, intellectual property rights - which, in the digital sphere are all to easy to infringe upon - are treated with respect, and that code and ideas of other companies are only used in accordance with copyright and all other associated laws and agreements.

B. Reliability and integrity

It is your ethical responsibility as a programmer or implementer of a new IT system to assure you do as good as job as is possible, particularly with regard to its reliability and the integrity of the data it works with.

C. Security

It is also your ethical, and legal, responsibility to assure adequate security of the system you are developing along with the data it works with - this applies to all hardware, software, and data within its scope.


Specific Examples

For a potential specific scenario, ask the question: when planning a specific IT system, what do you need to consider in terms of potential social and ethical issues?

Hospital Databases Example

Social Issues:

Ethical Issues:

Public Transportation Phone Paying Example

Social Issues:

Ethical Issues:



Do note that for each of the issues there are valid reasons why we are introducing the new system; i.e. there are, obviously ADVANTAGES, too.
- For example cost savings, better services such as healthcare, increased efficiency in services such as public transportation, etc., etc.



IA Solution Connection and Considerations

For most of you, there will not be too much for you to consider in this case; after all this is "just" a school project - a pretty big one, yes - but still a school project.

***But*** if you think that your program may very well be adopted by your Mom or Dad's company, etc., and it will be used by more than just them, you need to be a lot more reflective and thoughtful about this. In fact, you ***need*** to include those workers etc. in your planning stages. And you need to take their feedback at the end of your "school project Stage E", and address as best you can any issues that have come up; this is your ethical obligation if the program will continue to be used.

And then there's support from that point on. Again, if the program is to be used by real people as part of their real job, you are ethically obliged to either support the program yourself (even if it's from afar, at university), or assure your client has found someone else who can.



Jose: One of the best affects of PowerSchool being on-line and on phones, is the teacher can get tardy students quickly to class by taking attendance! :-)

Jose: Autonomous robots replacing workers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU - really good!