Possible Topics for Major Papers in CSC 199/299:
Social Implications of Computing

Spring 2013

The following is not exhaustive by any means; it’s mean to illustrate the breadth of possible subjects, and to get you thinking about what you might find interesting.  Please feel free to consult with me regarding these or other possibilities. 

music sharing, the RIAA, the DMCA, SOPA & PIPA, ACTA, OPEN, etc.
ethical issues
practical/technological issues
legal status
crashing the electric grid, or nuclear reactors, or...
software patents
pro/con, alternatives
implications of the the Leahy-Smith American Invents Act of 2011
environmental impacts, sustainability
data center power consumption, manufacturing processes, use of recyclable materials, etc.
computing to address social problems
climate or economic modeling, planning of various kinds
the impact of telecommuting
changes in business structure, living patterns, social interaction,
separation of work and leisure life
positive impacts on the environment, reduction in commute time, ...
on-line hate speech
is it different from “ordinary” hate speech?
does technology encourage incivility?  make it more dangerous?
how do we separate free speech from assault/defamation?
video surveilance
technological trends
legal status
likely impacts on social behavior
photo-realistic CGI
impacts for the film industry, legal rules of evidence, ...
digital forensics
how do we tell the real from the fake?
how does technology aid/inhibit law enforcement?
what it can and cannot do
legal status
long-term technological prospects
steganography—hiding information “in plain sight”
relationships to cryptography, digital forensics
legal status
assistive technology
for the blind, the deaf, the paralyzed, amputees, people with cognitive deficits, ...
the Google book project and related topics
the REAL ID act; national ID cards in general
uses, abuses, legal status
computerized war-fighting
how does remote combat change the behavior of policy makers?
of individual soldiers?
what are the prospects for hacking as a weapon of war?
what (if anything) should we do about it?
on-line communities
uniting people with similar interests
discouraging in-person interaction?
future trends
the open source and/or free software movements
history, prospects, relationships to distributed collaboration,
software patents, etc.
micropayments, digital cash, etc.
technological options
possible impacts on e-commerce
identify theft
risks, protective measures, future prospects
history, filtering technology, other proposals to curb
phishing and other forms of Internet fraud
variety of scams; social, legal, and technological countermeasures
digital archives
access, longevity, ...
outsourcing, off-shoring, etc.
extent to which the Internet facilitates these
the “digital divide”, both domestic and world-wide
computer viruses, worms, DOS attacks, etc.
threats; social, legal, and technological countermeasures
history, trends, free speech implications
virtual reality, immersive interfaces, etc.
technology codes of ethics
extent to which developers bear responsibility for the uses of their work
the air traffic control system
history, challenges, failed attemtps to upgrade, future prospects
uses of GPS and related technologies
the prospects for “true” AI
to what extent can/will machines replace people?
will machines have rights?
attempts to regulate/segregate
free speech implications
protecting children
“digital democracy”
social media and the Arab Spring
automated stock trading
role in various market emergencies
potential threats to/protections for global economic stability
digital rights/restrictions management
technological measures & countermeasures
legal status
potential differential impacts on consumers and pirates
appropriate technology for the developing world
“one laptop / one child”
communication for remote villages
desalination, electric grid, telemedicine, ...
face recognition, biometric identification, etc.
does anonymity have a future?
medical technology
(endless possibilities here...)
net neutrality
government censorship, both domestic and foreign
on-line tracking
cookies, HTML 5, JavaScript, re-identification, ...

Last Change:  01 May 2013 / Michael Scott's email address