Science, Tech & Society for Computing

Exploring ethical and legal issues in the computing world.

Posted by Danni on April 13, 2019

Something easy to review on.

Legal & Ethical

Computer Ethics & Law

The issues can be ethical, behavioral, organizational, socetal, technical or legal in nature.

Why Ethical?

Ethics is a set of moral priciples that govern the behavior of a group or individual. And why ethical issues in computing? Because computers provide with new capabilities and consequently new choices for action but there is either no policies for conduct in such situations exist or existing policies seem inadequate (POLICY VACUUM). So formulating policies to guide actions is urgently needed.

World’s first gene-edited babies in 2018.

Ethic problems generated by computers are NOT ALL NEW. e.g. threats to privacy posed by database.

Why Legal?

Norms are rules and expectations by which society guides the behaviour of its members. Types of norms include: Folkways, Mores, and Laws.

norms Types of Norms

A law is a “set of rules, promulgated by government agencies with authority to do so, that attempt to guide, conduct, and subsequently provide sanctions when the rules are violated.” (Kenneth Creech)

OR A Marxist answer is: All law is an instrument of economic and social policy, and the common law and civil law traditions in the west reflect a capitalist, bourgeois, imperialistic, exploitative society, economy, and government.

law The capitalist mode of production

Functions of law:

  1. Preventing undesirable behavior.
  2. Facilitating private arrangements between individuals (contracts, marriage) and, more importantly, arbitrating when disputes arise.
  3. Providing services and redistributing goods(taxation, education)
  4. Regulating its own creation(constitutions, procedural laws)
  5. Communicating and reinforcing social values (Public holiday at Mid-Autumn Festival)
  6. Legitimizing and consolidating the rule of the ruling class.

mores Mores v.s. Laws

IP rights & Digital Piracy

Intellectual property: The results of intellectual activities in the arts, science, and industry.

Intellectual property rights: The right given to the owner of an original work.

  • Copyright laws cover books, plays, songs, paintings, photographs, and movies (literary expression).
  • Patent law has protected mechanical inventions.(PTO)
  • Trademark law has protected symbols, pictures, sounds, colors, and smells used by a business to identify goods.
  • Contract law has covered trade secrets.



The history of Intellectual starts in 18th century because of the Capitalism. Copyright became a legal right with the Status of Queen Anne in 1710 as a result from pressure exerted by printers and publishers, NOT authors.

Authors generally transfer their rights to publishers, institutions or corporations in exchange for royalties; the exercising of those rights constitutes a major source of wealth in capitalist societies.

Legally protected copyright and patents has profound economic significance. Intellectual property becomes one of the foundations of the ‘new economy’ of information-based societies.

The Copyright Licensing Bodies Registry
1. Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong Limited
2. Hong Kong Recording Industry Alliance Limited
3. Phonographic Performance (South East Asia) Limited
4. The Hong Kong Copyright Licensing Association Limited
5. The Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society Limited

Definition of Copyright

  1. Copyright is an automatic right.
    A work acquires copyright protection upon creation when it is original, no matter the quality, and is in a fixed, physical form. E.g. A photograph. Unlike other intellectual property rights such as patents, trademarks and industrial designs, it is not necessary to register a copyright in HK, China in order to get protection under the HK law.
  2. Copyright is the exclusive legal right for a limited time period to reproduce, publish, adapt, distribute, perform, sell or transmit original work such as books, computer software, plays, drawings, films, musical compositions and so on. Copyright works made available on the Internet environment are also protected.

Author of Works

Category of Work Author of Work
Literary, musical, dramatic, artistic works The creator (i.e. writer, composer, photographer, etc)
Sound Recordings The producer
Films The producer and the principal director
broadcasts The person making the broadcast
Cable programmes The person providing the cable programme service
Typographical arrangements of published editions The publisher
EXCEPTION 1. Employee’s works (owned by employer unless otherwise agreed)
2. Commissioned works (owned by person being commissioned unless otherwise agreed)

International Copyright Convention

Infringement and liability
  • Infringement is the term used to describe unlawful interference with a copyright. Infringement assumes copying.
  • Copyright is a negative right.
  • Two types of infringement
    1. Primary infringement:
      If a person, without the consent of the copyright owner, carries out or causes or requires another party to carry out any of the above acts, that person will infringe the copyright of the works in question.Such infringement is referred to as “primary infringement”, and does not require proof of guilt in the infringer’s mind.
      Primary infringement incurs only civil liability.
      The only exception is when the infringing copies are made for sale or hire, as this is a criminal offence in addition to civil liability.
    2. Secondary infringement:
      A person may also incur civil liability for “secondary infringement” if that person carries out, among other things, any of the following acts without the consent of the copyright owner (see sections 30-31 of the Copyright Ordinance ).
    • To import into or export from Hong Kong, otherwise than for his /her private and domestic use, infringing copies of a work.

      If the copyright of an item is being infringed, the relevant copyright owner can institute legal action(an injunction order) from the court to prevent further infringement.

Ways of Infringement:

  1. Linking
    A website can get into trouble if it uses material, even a small amount, or images from the second website to make the hyperlink.
  2. Deep linking / Framing
    Deep linking allows the viewer to bypass possible advertising and other material that the linked website might want visitors to see.
    It can create a moral rights problem if the deep link goes to an inside page that does not identify the creator / author of the work.
  3. Derivative Liability
    if the website provides a link to another website that has content in violation of copyright or other illegal content, you might be held liable as well if it is determined you knew or had reason to know your link encouraged infringement by directing users to the infringing website.

Why copyright law?

The purpose of intellectual property laws is to ensure that mental labor is justly rewarded and to encourage innovation. Copyright laws are designed to protect these professionals (Programmers, scientists, writers, musicians…) and encourage them to continue their creative efforts so society can benefit from their future work.

It is often said that copyright does not protect ideas, but only the expression or product of ideas.

Challenges for copyright

  • Each new technology of reproduction - such as the photocopier or video cassette - has made copying easier, threatening the ability of copyright holders to control the copying and distribution of their work. As Lawrence Lessig notes, ‘copyright has always been at war with technology’ (1999: 124).

  • Digital technology has brought the greatest threat to copyright, because works in digital form are remarkably easy to copy and distribute (via the Internet) - and this process is difficult to detect and even more difficult to police.

How do people cope with it?

  1. Panic: copyright holders have scrambled to protect their rights with recourse to the law.
  2. Celebration: by those welcoming a digital ‘public domain’ free of the excessive restrictions of copyright.

To plagiarize is “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own” and “to use (another’s production) without crediting the source”. The “plagiarism” first appearing in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1621.

  1. Coping: An act of fraud similar to counterfeiting. (Copyright infringement)
  2. Piracy: Software piracy refers to the illegal duplication of copyrighted software. It is a kind of software theft.
    • Steals software media: A perpetrator physically stealing the media that contain the software or the hardware that contains the media.
    • Intentionally erases programs: When a programmer is terminated from, or stops working for a company. Although the programs are company property, some dishonest programmers intentionally remove or disable the programs they have written from company computers.
    • Illegally copies a program: When software is stolen from software manufacturers.This type of theft, called piracy, is by far the most common form of software theft. Software piracy is the unauthorized and illegal duplication of copyrighted software.
    • Illegally registers and/or activates a program: It involves users illegally obtaining registration numbers and / or activation codes. A program called a keygen (key generator), creates software registration numbers and sometimes activation codes. Some unscrupulous / unethical individuals create and post keygens so that users can install software without legally purchasing it.

Why commiting Software Piracy?

  • no proper legal protection
  • or laws are rarely enforced
  • fairly sim[ple crime to commit.

Why software piracy is serious crime?

  • introduces a number of risks into the software market.
  • increases the chance of spreading viruses.
  • reduces your ability to receive technical support.
  • drives up the price of software for all users.
Data privacy & Telecommunications ordinance

What is Privacy?
Westin (1967) defined privacy as “the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others”.

Privacy dimensions
  1. Freedom from intrusion of unwanted information into one’s personal space.
  2. Freedom from surveillance and improper access by others.
  3. Autonomy over personal information collected and disclosed by others. (PTO)

    Surveillance cameras, increasingly used for nabbing routine traffic violators and detecting security violators, can be combined with picture databases to locate criminals, but they might also be used by totalitarian regimes or organized crime rings to track the activities of innocent people.

  4. Anonymity

Anonymity can also serve as a cloak for online harassers, pornographers, terrorists, and other criminals.
With greater “security” come more opportunities for THEM to shield their communications from the law.
Introducing laws forbidding false headers and misleading subject lines in unsolicited commercial e-mail.
Whether ISPs have an obligation to preserve subscribers’ anonymity is also in question nowadays. (Cf. Google’s case)
Phone card registration in China.

Why personal info is important?

We live in an information age, and data is one of the currencies of our time. Direct mail companies can save money and reduce waste by sending catalogs only to those people who may make purchases. Online advertisers who track individual’s Web surfing and buying habits can target their ads toward people who might be interested.


PRISM Program
Privacy protection in the US is based on a combination of targeted laws, regulations, and self-regulation by industry.A patchwork of more recent U.S. laws has extended individual privacy rights in specific situations.Fair Credit Reporting Act/Family Education Rights and Privacy Act/Video Privacy Protection Act/Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act/Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
US Patriot Act, 2001: serves as a clear illustration of the ongoing tension between personal privacy and national security — a tension that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.


Nearly every European nation passed laws based on the Code of Fair Information Practices.
personal data can only be processed if there is a legitimate purpose for processing the data.European history includes many painful examples of the abuse of personal data by Fascist and Communist regimes, and modern European law is designed to protect citizens from unchecked use of personal information.


EU - treats privacy as a human dignity, almost like human right. One blanket principle on privacy rights.
US - violation of privacy is intrusion based. Sectoral approach, maintains the view that too much rights can hinder commerce.


Have data privacy law because of the drafting of the Basic Law.
have the first EU style Privacy COmmissioner in Asia.
Basic Law, Ordinances and the Common law.

6 Data Protection Principles:

  1. Collection: Personal data shall be collected for a purpose directly related to a function and activity of the data user; lawful and fair collection of adequate data; data subjects shall be informed of the purpose for which the data are collected and to be used.
  2. Accuracy and retention: All practicable steps shall be taken to ensure the accuracy of personal data; data shall be deleted upon fulfillment of the purpose for which the data are used.
  3. Limits of use: Unless the data subject has given prior consent, personal data shall be used for the purpose for which they were originally collected or a directly related purpose.
  4. Security: All practicable steps shall be taken to ensure that personal data are protected against unauthorized or accidental access, processing or erasure.
  5. Openess: Formulates and provides policies and practices in relation to personal data.
  6. Right of access: Individuals have rights of access to and correction of their personal data. Data users should comply with data access or data correction request within the time limit, unless reasons for rejection prescribed in the Ordinance are applicable.

In most cases, contraventions of the principles DO NOT constitute criminal offences but a contravention of a data protection principle can form the basis of a civil suit against the data user whether or not an enforcement notice has been issued.

What is Personal Data?

  1. Relating directly or indirectly to a living individual;
  2. It is possible and practical to ascertain the identity of the individual from the data;
  3. In a form in which access to or processing of the data is practicable (i.e. must have been recorded in a document (e.g. disc, file or other device)).

Computer Crime

Computer Crime: Any illegal act involving a computer generally.(a target / a tool of crime / incidental to crime)

Cybercrime: online or Internet-base illegal acts. Software used by cybercriminals is called crimeware.

  7. SPOOFING(電子欺騙)
  8. CYBERSTALKING (潜行追踪;缠扰行为;盯梢)

    In the salami technique, cyber criminals steal money or resources a bit at a time. The key here is to make the alteration so insignificant that in a single case it would go completely unnoticed. Eg : a bank employee inserts a program, into the bank’s servers, that deducts a small amount of money (say Rs. 5 a month) from the account of every customer.

Common E Crime in HK:

  • Social media deception
  • E-banking fraud
  • Email scam
  • Online social networking traps
  • Online blackmail
  • Technology crimes related to online games
  • Online business fraud
  • Unauthorized access to computer system
  • Other types of technology crime such as: Criminal Intimidation/ Blackmail, identity Theft, and Illegal Information

Who commits E Crimes?

  • Company insiders (clerks, cashiers, programmers, computer operators, and managers) who aren’t reported to authorities even when they are caught in the act.
  • former employees seeking revenge.
  • high-tech pranksters looking for a challenge/thrill.
  • few are corporate or international spies seeking classified information.

Why E Crimes?

  1. EASY to remove information either through physical or virtual medium. Capacity to store data in comparatively small space.
  2. Easy to access
  3. Negligence. <-> human conduct
  4. Loss of evidence

Type of Spoofing
1. Simple phone call
2. Phishing
3. Spammer(send email pretends to be companies)
4. Combinations

Types of E Criminals:

  • Hacker: used to describe outside people who penetrate a computer system.
  • Cracker: a malicious hacker who may represent a serious problem for a corporation.

    Hacking is art. Cracking is revolution.

Software Bugs:

  • Prevent a Web browser from displaying videos stored in certain formats;
  • Cause a telephone company’s billing software to calculate the wrong amount due on an invoice;
  • Allow an online bank account to be accessed even without providing the correct password;
  • Cause the autopilot software on an airplane to miscalculate the airplane’s altitude.

Who holds Responsibility?

  • Programmer
  • Company(most cases)
  • End User


WHat is E-Waste

Electronic waste or e-waste is any broken or unwanted electrical or electronic appliance.

Types of E Waste

Is it MUST? Planned / built-in Obsolescence

What is Computers

The environment is known as the natural world; the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, plant or any other living thing operates.

Computers help environmnet by:

  1. Environmental education
  2. Through video-conferencing and e-mail reduce use of paper (paperless company or U).
  3. Enabled hundreds of thousands of individuals to participate in on-line activism – a vital part of the environmental movement.

The 3 sociological perspectives

Harm of the Computers

Computer equipment is composed of more than 1,000 materials, many of which are highly toxic.

  • Lead and cadmium in computer circuit boards,
  • Lead oxide and barium in computer monitors’ cathode ray tubes,
  • Mercury in switches and flat screens,
  • Brominated flame retardants on printed circuit boards, Cables, and plastic casting, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) present in order capacitors and transformers,
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-coated copper cables
  • Plastic computer casings that release highly toxic dioxins and furans when burned.

Solutions to Toxic E-Waste:

  1. Sustainable development is concerned about how to compromise between environmental, social and economic interests.
  2. Sustainable consumption – to make use of consumers’ power to change consumption habits, in order to foster sustainable development of the environment.
Types of pollution
  1. Land (Solid Waste) Pollution: If they seep into soil and water, the chemicals can contaminate water supplies, air, crops, and domestic animals, and have been associated with human birth defects, miscarriages, and organic diseases.
  2. Air pollution: Result of exhaust fumes from the combustion of IT products. Some computer waste is disposed of through incineration (burning). Incineration of scrap computers generates extremely toxic dioxins which are released in air emissions.

Carbon Monoxide (CO); Ground-level Ozone (O3); Lead (Pb); Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2); Particulate Matter (PM); and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2). Also results in high concentrations of toxic heavy metals in the flue gas residues, fly ash, and filter cake.

  1. Water pollution

    Water pollution is the second most imperative environmental concern along with air pollution.

  2. Noise pollution?
  3. Radiation? Low level, Blue Light.
Handeling E-Waste

UN Framework Measurement

Following are detailed system introduction:

  1. Official Take-back Systems Official Take-back Systems
    • Usually under the requirement of national e-waste legislation, e-waste is collected by designated organizations, producers and/or by the govt.
    • The final destination of the collected e-waste is state-of-the-art treatment facilities, which recover the valuable materials in an environmentally-sound way and reduce the negative impacts.
    • Exists in both developed and developing countries.

      The oldest (since 1994) and probably most successful e-waste or waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) system is the one found in Switzerland.

  2. Disposal of E-Waste in Mixed Residual Waste Disposal of E-Waste in Mixed Residual Waste
    • Consumers directly dispose of e-waste through the normal dustbins together with other types of household waste.
    • Low chance of separation prior to these final destinations.
    • Possible destination: landfill / municipal solid waste incineration.
    • Exists in both developed and developing countries.
  3. Collection outside Official Take-back Systems Collection outside Official Take-back Systems
    • E-waste collected by individual waste dealers or companies and then traded through various channels.
    • Possible destination: metal recycling, plastic recycling, specialized e-waste recycling and also export.
    • e-waste handled not reported as part of the official treatment amount by the established take-back systems (Scenario 1).
    • Huge amount collected in developed countries and then traded to developing countries for further treatment.

      WHY? The demand for inexpensive second-hand equipment and raw materials in less-developed regions BUT the recycling infrastructure in typically absent.

  4. Informal Collection & Recycling in Developing Countries Informal Collection & Recycling in Developing Countries
    • In most developing countries, there are an enormous number of self-employed people engaged in the collection and recycling of E-Waste.
    • Such informal collection activities provide the basic means necessary for many unskilled workers to live but cause severe damage to the environment & human health.
    • Lacking legislation, treatment standards, environmental protection measures and recycling infrastructure, are the main reasons that e-waste is recycled in a crude manner.

Majority of the world’s hazardous waste is generated by industrialized countries and then exported to less developed countries. The export of scrap is profitable bcoz the labor costs are cheap and regulations are lax.

Why Informal recycling is increasing?

  1. Growth of E-Waste in both developed and developing countries and E-waste can generate revenue and employment

Why recycling is popular in many countries? Attractive market value of certain elements found in electronics such as gold, copper, and steel, even though the primitive techniques used usually have low material recovery rates when compared with sophisticated technologies.

blood lead levels in resident children higher than usual.
Strict local regulations on informal recycling activities are not only unsuccessful but intensify the illegal practices surrounding these activities.


  1. Reduce: model upgrade
  2. Reuse:
  3. Recycle: NOT informal recycling! Scenario 3: “Collection outside formal take-back systems” in developed countries.

    6R: + Replace, Refuse, Repair

Extended Producer Responsibility Producers of electronics must bear full financial responsibility for setting up collection, recycling, and disposal systems.

New Solutions to Toxic E-Waste E-waste should be processed in a sophisticated manner for two reasons:

  1. To avoid negative effects on the environment caused by hazardous substances in e-waste
  2. To recover value from the e-waste, usually by recycling metals or plastics.

A precondition for all recycling processes is the collection of e-waste. And the core questions for the organization of an e-waste recycling process are :

  • What is required by legal regulations?
  • Where is the value?
  • What are the costs?
  • What are the risks for the environment and human health?


What is AI?

Simulate human intelligent behavior, but most try to design intelligent machines independent of the way people think.

Human’s 3 tasks:
Computational tasks
Recongnition tasks(human better)
Reasoning tasks(human better, expeience…)

AI is finding ways to improve computer’s reasoning & recongnition tasks.

History of AI
  • 1950, Alan Turing, “Turing Test/Imitation Game” to check if machines are intelligent

  • 1960s. Researchers funded by ARPA started to work on AI(The design of computer system that understands natural language, recognized patterns, and drew logical inferences from masses of data)

  • 1970s. Computer Scientists learned to program machines to play chess.

  • 1980s. Commercial usage: expert systems

  • 1990s. 1996 IBM Deep Blue.

  • 2000s. IBM Watson An AI computer system able to answer natiral language questions.

  • 2010s. 2013 First commercial usage: utilization management decisions in hospital

    1. AlphaGo by Google DeepMind. ALgorithms use Monte Carlo Tree Search.
Applications of AI
  1. Expert system(one aspect of a branch of computer science called AI)
    • Help train new employees
    • Reduce the number of human errors in a complex task
    • Take care of routine tasks so workers can focus on more challenging jobs
    • Provide expertise when no experts are available
    • Preserve the knowledge of experts after those leave
    • Combine the knowledge of several experts
    • Make knowledge available to more people

      Current deployment: Searching / Heuristics / Pattern Recongnition / Machine Learning / Question Answering System
      poor at program planning Program Planning

  2. Robots
    • repetitive or dangerous tasks
    • The most important hardware differences between robots and other computers are the input and output peripherals.
  3. Cyborg
    • A cyborg (short for “cybernetic organism”) is a theoretical or fictional being with both organic and bio-mechatronic parts.
    • uses heuristic algorithms

nation competitive strategy

Educations & Government

Development of the Internet
  • 50s: Origin / Early history
  • 60s: US military constructed the ARPAnet

    In 1965, Advance Research Projects Agency sponsored a study entitled “A Cooperative Network of Time Sharing Computers”

  • 70s: Development of related support to the Internet

    @Sign was first used by Ray Tomlinson. June 1973. started woking on TCP/IP.

  • 80s: The birth of the Internet
  • 90s: Rapid development of the Internet

    WWW protocol proposed. 1992 World Wide Web launched.

  • 2000s: The Global Internet - Myth or the New Revolution?
  • 2010s: Internet goes mobile
  • Recent trends: Size, Speed, Format and Usage.

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

What Tech provide for Education?
  1. Technological familiarity -> limitations

  2. Computer Literacy

  3. Culture -> human framework, global perspective

  4. Communication -> to communicate, negotiate, cooperate, and collaborate, both locally and globally.

  5. Learning to learn -> job market is rapidly changing

  6. Computer-based Training

  7. Programming Tools


Problems of E-learning
  1. The spiraling cost of technology relative to the total education spend
  2. The lack of educational content *Indutrialization – 3 Rs [Reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic]
  3. The shortage of skills - New skills and know-how are required to make use of information and communications technology and networked resources.
  4. Education is NOT equal to vocational training
  5. Flexibility: materials up to date?
  6. Advantages are small if only change is the delivery medium.
  7. Students and teachers forget advanced computer skills if they don’t use them.
  8. Technology doesn’t reduce teacher workloads; if anything, it seems to make their jobs harder
  9. Research suggests that the human brain has more trouble comprehending and remembering information when it’s delivered via hypertext, multimedia, or the Web rather than through books.

Two forms of technological Stratification:

  1. Differential class-based Access to tech in the form of digital divide.
  2. A knowledge gap -> more advantaged area students receive more exposure

e-government is the use of information technology to provide citizens and organizations with more convenient access to government information and services and to provide delivery of public services to citizens, business partners, and those working in the public sector.

It is also an efficient and effective way of conducting government business transactions with citizens and business.

e gov

Digital Nation
  1. The digital nation constitutes a new social class: Young, educated and affluent inhabit in wired institutions and industries.
  2. Conventional politics is suffused with ideology, the digital world is obsessed with facts.
  3. “Current” political system is irrational, awash in hypocritical god-and-values talk -> a more rational, less dogmatic approach to politics.
  4. Growth of ‘self-navigators’

    relying on oneself to be the captain of one’s own ship and charting one’s own course.

  5. The digital young, from SV entrepreneurs to college students, have a nearly universal contempt for government’s ability to work – wasteful and clueless.

G2C, G2G, G2E(employee), G2G

Why E Gov?

  1. reduce the costs of government & radically transform the way government programs are delivered and the very nature of governance.
  2. Overcome the barriers of time and distance
  3. deliver better-quality products / services to the public more quickly, cost effectively, and conveniently.
  4. Improve transparency
  5. Digitalized information -> improve efficiency
  6. Scientific management –> scientific decision.
  7. Improve political comunication
  8. Better to gather feedbacks
  9. INcreasing personalization

Why not E Gov?

over control from the government / surveinlance

**Cyber-democracy Information Politics**

Demography & Demographic Modeling

What is Demography?

The analysis of the size, structure and development of human population.

3 Components of Population Dynamics

the processes underlying births, deaths, and movements in and out of a given population.

  1. Fertility: The incidence of birth in a population
  2. mortality: The incidence of death in a population

    Crude death rateNumber of deaths in a given year for every for every thousand people in a population
    Infant mortality ratesNumber of deaths among infants under one year for each 1,000 live births

  3. migration: Movement of people in and out of a specified territory.

    Voluntary migration: Due to economic push and pull factors (theory).
    Involuntary migration: Forced migration due to war or other social conflict.
    Immigration: movement into a territory.
    Emigration: movement out of a territory.

Demographic Structure?

It is concerned with: the size, composition, and distribution of populations; their patterns of change over time through births, deaths, and migration; and the determinants and consequences of such changes.

Aging Problem Sex Composition Problem

Demographic Modeling?

Demographic models are an attempt to represent demographic processes in the form of a mathematical function or set of functions relating two or more measurable demographic variables.

The primary purpose of modeling is simplification, to reduce a confusing mass of numbers to a few, intelligible basic parameters, or to make possible an approximate representation of reality without its complexity.

Malthusian Theory

First Demographic Transition Theory

  1. Stage one (preindustrial, agrarian)

    High birth rates due to economic value of children and lack of birth control

  2. Stage two (early industrial)

    High birth rate and lowered death rate give boost to population growth (many of the developing nations today mirror this stage)

  3. Stage three (mature industrial)

    Birth rates begin to mask death rates as population surge drops as affluence transforms children into economic liability

  4. Stage four (postindustrial)

    Economic realities force drop in birth rates to the point where growth is stagnant or very slow Main theme – Population patterns reflect a society’s level of technological development.

stage of population

Criticism: Based on Western societies (Europe, North America, Japan). / Not inevitable that there will be a fall in fertility rates in less developed countries. /

Computing in demographic modeling

3 Classes of Models

  1. Iconic Model: least abstract, physical, ‘look-alike’ model, such as a model airplane or train.
  2. Analogous Model: more abstract but having some resemblance to what it represents, such as a chart, graph, map, network diagram.
  3. Symbolic Model: most-abstract model with no resemblance but only an approximation to what it represents, such as a mathematical equation or formula, financial statement, or set of accounts.

Objectives of Model

  1. facilitate understanding
  2. aid in decision making
  3. explain, control and predict events

but only contain important features

What is Computer Modeling? Constructing and manipulating abstract (mathematical and/or graphical) representations of economic, engineering manufacturing, social, and other types of situations and natural phenomenon, simulated with the help of a computer system.

Simulation, is the actual process of running the model

S-V(Scientific-Visualization) Software


reply too much on computer power?


Age Based Models: focus toward individual behaviors and interactions and away from strictly population level insights.

4 aspects:

  1. A set of autonomous agents: each agent has a set of attributes that describe the state of the agent and a set of specified behaviors
  2. A set of agent relationships
  3. The agent’s environment
  4. A ‘system’ is therefore composed of the set of agents, the environment and their relationships.


Environmental & Climate Change

Climate Change

The Environment is known as the natural world; the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, plant or any other living thing operates.

Climate – long-term patterns or trends.

Environmental change is defined as a change or disturbance of the environment caused by human influences or natural ecological processes. … including natural disasters, human interference, or animal interaction.

Key factors: Overpopulation / Urbanization / Fossil Fuel / Land surface(deforestation -> desertification) / Nitrogen Fixation(more fixed synthetically than naturally) / Fresh water / Destruction of ozone layer(human made CFCs used in fridge, cleaning pc chips, hospital sterilization, solvents, dry cleaning) / Costal and Marian Boundaries

Climate Change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years).

global warming –> mutation of climate change


  1. A sustainable society does not use natural resources or produce wastes faster than they are regenerated or assimilated by the environment.
  2. Sustainable societies must avoid actions that trigger feedback loops that amplify disturbances.
  3. The first two principles of sustainability must be meshed with the ethical and moral principles that govern fairness among nations, between genders, and among current and future generations.
  4. Social incentives must reward those who act in a sustainable way and punish those who act in a non-sustainable manner.
ICT for environmental study

Information systems/ICT can assist collective planning and decision making.

  1. Data Gathering
    • remote sensing
    • science of obtaining and interpreting information about area, object, or phenomena from a distance, using sensors that are not in physical contact with the object or phenomena being observed.
    • Different sensors aboard airplane or satellites are used extensively in providing imaging, ortho-photographic, and mapping information to support both detailed micro-and regional level studies of land surface, marine, and atmospheric hazard interactions.
    • remotely monitor high-risk volcanoes / Meteorological satellites enable officials to observe atmospheric patterns and visualize the formation and intensity of cyclones and other extreme weather events
  2. Data Visualization
    • Geographic information systems (GIS)
    • geo-referenced data to be stored, retrieved, manipulated, mapped, and visualized in combination with data collected from other sources such as human settlement, critical infrastructure, evacuation routes, and public assembly locations.
    • standardize, integrate, centralize, and visually display both static and dynamic critical information before, during, and after hazard occurrences.
  3. Environmental management with databases
  4. Environmental modeling
    • “who done it?”
    • “what if . . . ?”
    • Grid Computing
    • Grid computing is the collection of computer resources from multiple locations to reach a common goal.
    • The grid can be thought of as a distributed system with non-interactive workloads that involve a large number of files.
    • Grid computing is distinguished from conventional high performance computing systems such as cluster computing in that grid computers have each node set to perform a different task/application.
    • Grid computers also tend to be more heterogeneous and geographically dispersed (thus not physically coupled) than cluster computers. - Distributed Computing

Why Construct Simulation Model instead of studing systems?1. Existence – The system might not yet exist.
2. Physical realization – The system is not constructed from entities that can be represented by physical objects. it may be a social system (e.g., welfare policies, labor practices) that can only be simulated on a computer.
3. Safety
4. Speed of construction
5. Time scale Some physical systems change too slowly or too quickly
6. Ethical behavior
7. Ease of modification
8. Economy: It’s far less expensive for an automobile manufacturer to produce a digital model of a nonexistent car than to build a prototype out of steel.
9. Projection: Without computers, it could take decades for biologists to determine whether the introduction of a nonnative plant on an island threatens other species, and by the time they discover the answer, it would be too late to do anything about it.

  1. Environmental Communication and Activism on the web
Role of Computing Professionals

Role: A set of expectations (rights and duties) that define the behavior people view as appropriate and inappropriate for the occupant of a status. Status: a recognized social position that an individual occupies.

Role is defined as behavior expected of someone who holds a particular status.
Every person has a role associated with a particular status.