Patrice Koehl
Department of Computer Science
Genome Center
Room 4319, Genome Center, GBSF
451 East Health Sciences Drive
University of California
Davis, CA 95616
Phone: (530) 754 5121

Ethics in an Age of Technology: Fall 2022

General information

Lecture Time and Location:

Tue & Thursday 12:10p.m.-1:30 p.m.; 1134 Bainer hall


M 2:10pm to 3:00pm; 5 Wellman

Information related to UC Davis/ COVID-19:

Campus Ready
Student FAQ related to COVID-19
Student resources


Prof. Patrice Koehl
koehl at
This is the only email address that will be answered.
Your subject line MUST include “ECS188″.

Instructor office hours:

Wednesdays, 9 am -10:30 am, Kemper Hall 3059


Sydney Sullivan

TA office hours:

Wednesday 12pm - 2pm. Office hours will be on Zoom

Course homepage:

Final Date and Time:

There will not be a final

Information sheet:

Word document or PDF file


In-person course

  • The class will be offered offline (i.e. in person), as it is a discussion-intensive course
  • Code of Conduct: "As a member of the UC Davis community, students are expected to adhere to the UC Davis Code of Academic Conduct that supports high standards of behavior and ensures fair evaluation of student learning."
  • Privacy: "Respect for privacy is an essential part of our classroom community.
  • Recording Recording is not permitted. If this is an issue, please discuss it with me


Optional Textbooks

  • M. Winston and R. Edelbach, Society, Ethics, and Technology (5th edition).

Overview (with thanks to Phil. Rogaway)

The course material will be broad, open-ended, and unlike anything else that begins with the letters ECS most of the class time will be spent with you guys talking. At the end of the term, your evaluation will state the following: My goal is to increase your inclination to think about, and act upon, the ethical implications of your personal and professional choices, and our collective work as technologists. I'd also like you to read a lot, to write a fair amount, and to become more comfortable participating in oral discussions and giving an oral presentation.

Being responsible for your grades

Late policy

If you turn in a written report late, you will only receive partial credit. If it is less than 24 hours late, you will receive 50% credit; if it is between 24 hours to 48 hours late, you will receive 25% credit; if it is more than 48 hours late, you will receive 0 credit. The only exception is when you provide a doctor's note.

Grade breakdown

Class participation 0% You are expected to participate in all of the classroom discussions. I am hoping that you will express your views.
Quizzes (probably 6) 20% Unannounced short (5 minutes) quizzes at the beginning of a "lecture". Those quizzes refer to the reading expected for that lecture. You can expect 6 quizzes over the quarter. I will drop the lowest grade of those 6 quizzes.
Reports (probably 3) 20% Brief reports (1 page) on the reading material, due at the beginning of the class during which the material is discussed. You can expect 3 reports over the quarter.
Term paper 35% The term paper should be approximately 2000 words long, in a reasonable format. It has to be readable, so I will impose that it is typed (your choice of software). For more information, see here.
Oral presentations 25% One presentation at the end of the quarter

Academic Conduct

The rules for conduct in UC Davis classes can be summarized with two principles:

  • Be polite.
  • Don’t cheat.

Be polite

As adults meeting in a professional context, we should all behave professionally: this means being polite and respectful to everyone we deal with.

As the instructor and reader, it is our responsibility to teach as well as we can and to be available, polite and respectful to students.

In email, you must include ECS 188 in the subject line. This enables the instructors and reader to respond much faster. Your email, with the required subject line, will be responded within a day in most cases (excluding weekends and holidays). Examples of suitable subject line are "ECS 188 - Report", "ECS 188- term paper", etc.

You are responsible for treating us and your fellow students politely and with respect.

Take the time to be polite and respectful when emailing the instructors and reader. For example, this email to the reader is not appropriate:

> R U givng us fdback Fr?

The question is fine, but the style is all wrong. It is not an appropriate professional communication, because it is not polite and respectful.

Don’t cheat

As the instructor and teaching assistants, it is our responsiblity to make tests and assignments that are fair, to grade fairly, to look for cheating, and to refer students who cheat to Student Judicial Affairs for possible sanctions. The English department made the largest number of referrals to SJA last year, but Computer Science was in the top 10.

It is sometimes unclear to a student when s/he is cheating on a written assignment. We want you to help each other, and we want you to look at examples of similar essays. So how do you know when helping and looking crosses the line into cheating? Here’s the simple basic rule:

You should design and write your essay yourself, and you should know what it contains.

Writing an essay/report can be very, very frustrating. Sometimes you don’t know how to start. Sometimes you feel confident about what you wrote, but it may be out of topic, unclear, or incorrectly organized. Talk to the other students, to friends, to the reader, to anyone who can help! You should ask people for advice, have them look at your essay, talk about its overall structure, talk about details…. but make sure when the conversation is over that you implement whatever changes are suggested yourself. If your friend is telling you exactly what to type, you are cheating.


ECS188 was designed by Prof. Phil Rogaway. Most of the materials used in this version of the course is coming from the reader he has assembled.

  Page last modified 3 October 2022