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Week 10 -Therac 25: Questions & Answers Included

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Information Technology Management
ITM 407
Candace Grant

Wednesday November 14 , 2012 ITM407 Week 10 Preparation Notes Software - is it ethically neutral? Readings: *Chuck Huff, Unintentional Power in the Design of Computing Systems Case: Therac-25 Value Sensitive Design Is Cybertechnology Ethically Neutral? Is it like “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people”? Read Huff’s article on “Unintentional Power in the Design of Computing Systems”. He describes the extra responsibility that comes with increased knowledge and the concept of unintentional power. Read the story on the Therac-25. How does increased knowledge bring increased responsibility to designers of hardware and software, especially in the case of the Therac-25? Increases knowledge brings increased responsibility to designers of hardware and software because they require extra precaution and it also has lots of side effects such as dangers that designer must consider. Therac-25 is used in hospitals for radiation therapy purposes. • As this software was created by increased knowledgeable designers, they have to take extra responsibility ensuring that their designed product runs smoothly and avoids any harm to any of the patients • The designers knew the radiation Therac-25 generated could be harmful but still they were negligent in the initial design of the system and also when following up on reports of malfunction • Systems like Therac-25 deals with people and used in hospital systems, one small mistake can injure or even kill a patient, therefore it does take the extensive knowledge to build such a system however, designers must also ensure that their increased knowledge is put forth towards a good cause by designing a th Wednesday November 14 , 2012 system which has no malfunctioning  Even if there is malfunctioning, they should take the responsibility to check on the system so that it does not continue to malfunction  Failing to do so can lead to serious consequences such as death What does Huff mean by unintentional power and why should we be aware of it as ICT solution providers? Huff means that designers design systems in a way in which its main intention is to do good for users but it also unintentionally harms the user. We should be aware of this because our design of a program could have negative impacts due to a mistake that was made as a ICT solution provider. • As a result, we must always look into conditions where our product will be used (example: in the case of Therac-25 designers failed to comply with that part as a result many people died) • We must take more limitations into account before letting users use the system because one little mistake can have a greater negative effect • We can follow 3 steps in order to address this issue: (1)Recognize the problem and attempt to limit its domain find the problem and try to limit the domain where it can cause a problem and then address within those limited domains (2)Using developing methods to inform yourself of those effects worth predicating the use of a social impact statement can help you to determine what sorts of effects you should care about as well as investigate the restrictions that will guide your solutions (3)Make provision in the life cycle of software to look for the effects since you cannot find all of the possible effects of a system before its release you should be able to identify them right away after the release th Wednesday November 14 , 2012 Read the case on the Therac-25. What is the value or benefit that the Therac-25 is expected to provide? What is the major risk in this project that is likely to prevent these benefits from being realized? What is your recommendation on what could have been done differently? Be prepared to discuss this in the week 10 class. Value Sensitive Design may be able to help in answering the above questions. Watch the video and describe the differences between th
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