Reading Room

The ViC team brings together people with  diverse backgrounds. To get to know each other, we have set up a  virtual reading room. Somewhat similar to a ‘reading course’,  every week we pick old and new material from our research areas, current affairs, and beyond. Here’s a short list of selected material for the first ten weeks of the Values-First SE project (Spring 2018).  Please note that posting does not mean endorsing. Material presented may cover arguments and counter-arguments.

Week One – Studying Values

01 March 2018 – ViC looks into methods for the systematic investigation of values in software production with emphasis on the  practitioner perspective. We value Friedman’s work on values sensitive design (VSD),  yet we find Maio’s work more relevant to our current research objectives.

  • Team ViC introductory publication: Ferrario, M.A., Simm, W., Forshaw, S., Gradinar, A., Smith, M.T. and Smith, I., 2016, May. Values-first SE: research principles in practice. In Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Software Engineering Companion (ICSE ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 553-562. DOI: [Authors’ copy]
Week Two – Software Engineering and Ethics

08 March 2018 – This week we compare the old and new ACM Code of Ethics.  We then map the  revised Code to Schwartz’s refined  model of values. In doing so, we get one of our tools ready to be piloted by our partners. It is the ‘Values q-sort’ and TUW goes first.

Week Three – Values and Corporations

15 March 2018 – Corporations have values too. ViC works on a proof of concept for tech industry automated values extraction – this results in a poster submission to ICT4S2018

  • Maitland report: The Values Most Valued by UK Plc, 2015
  • B-Corp – “B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency”
Week Four – Software Personas

22 March 2018 – We revisit Alan Cooper’s classic book on personas (i.e. check his notes on ‘Polite Software’) , Grudin and Pruitt’s material, and Gaver et al.’s Cultural Probes . We also look at personality profiling approaches . We continue to prototype tools, our focus this week is on Software Personas.

  • Cooper, A., 2004. The inmates are running the asylum: (why high-tech products drive us crazy and how to restore the sanity). Indianapolis: Sams.
  • Pruitt, J. and Grudin, J., 2003, June. Personas: practice and theory. In Proceedings of the 2003 conference on Designing for user experiences (pp. 1-15). ACM.
  • Donnellan, M.B., Oswald, F.L., Baird, B.M. and Lucas, R.E., 2006. The mini-IPIP scales: tiny-yet-effective measures of the Big Five factors of personality. Psychological assessment, 18(2), p.192.

{Easter Break}

Week Six – The Metaphysical Roots of Computing

09 April 2018 – Time to dig up the metaphysical roots of software.  We do so by examining the links between  the binary system and ‘God’. We start with Leibniz,  considered the father of the binary system, and the first computer scientist and information theorist.

Week Seven  – AI and Ethics

16 April 2018 – The UK Parliament argues that the UK is fit to be a global leader in Ethical AI.  We also look at  transhumanist values. And ponder.

Week Eight  –  Post Truth and Fact Checking

23 April 2018 – Much has been said about post-truth , but the University of Washington  (UW) course on data science & fact checking truly shines.  We read a couple of articles from the UW list, add O’Neil’s book to the list, and one of our own.

Week NINE  –  Infidels and Magic Sauces

30 April 2018 – This week is an exploration of a  small selection of material suggested by colleagues from near and afar.

Week Ten  –  Fairware, FAIRNESS and PRINCIPLES

7 May 2018 –  “Be fair and take action not to discriminate.” says Principle 1.4  of the latest draft of the ACM Code of Ethics (Feb 2018). Alas, what is ‘fairness’? Can it be tested? Can it be measured? With the First International Workshop on Software Fairness  at ICSE2018 only three weeks away, we read some of the organisers’ paper on Fairness Testing and then contrast it with Liu et al. view on fairness and ‘time’, noting the unintended consequences of treating fairness as a ‘static’ value.

  • Galhotra, S., Brun, Y. and Meliou, A., 2017, August. Fairness testing: testing software for discrimination. In Proceedings of the 2017 11th Joint Meeting on Foundations of Software Engineering (pp. 498-510). ACM.
  • Also in the news, How to Teach to A Computer what Fair Means; related academic paper: Liu, L.T., Dean, S., Rolf, E., Simchowitz, M. and Hardt, M., 2018. Delayed Impact of Fair Machine Learning. arXiv preprint arXiv:1803.04383

    While designing the ViC q-sort, we compared the old and the latest draft of the ACM Code of Ethics. We paused at the suggested changes to ‘Principle 1.2 Avoid Harm’“Some respondents suggested that this principle was inconsistent with work in the military sector or law enforcement where some systems are designed, in part, to cause harm” The current  version of the ACM Code now states that unintentional harm must be avoided. We ponder:  can intentional harm be ethical? We are not sure.

  • Suchman, L., Follis, K., & Weber, J. (2017). Tracking and Targeting: Sociotechnologies of (In)security. Science, Technology and Human Values, 42 (6), 983 [pre-print]