Oregon State University

CS 391: Social and Ethical Issues in Computer Science

Oregon State University, College of Engineering

Chapter 5 ~ The Hardware

From the beginning of their interaction with the environment, humans have invented tools and methods (technology) to improve their day-to-day existence and prolong life. We ground grains between stones, shaped wood and mud into vessels, wove fibers into clothing, planted seeds to increase food supplies, forged metals to improve transportation, harnessed electricity to power machines, and used our minds to tell those machines how to behave.

These advances have created wealth as well as poverty in a multitude of ways. In this chapter, you'll explore some of the amazing advances of hardware as well as global consequences.

Then, you'll examine a case of hardware invention which disrupted society and add that research to a collaborative historical timeline.

⬆ Shiftrefresh Shift-Refresh this page to see the most up-to-date instructions.

Explore Topics: Hardware

5.1 Introduction: design models.

Is it ethical for businesses to design products to last just a year or two? Or is it more ethical for businesses to design products that can be reused, repaired, and recycled before being discarded? Or, should businesses design products that do not contribute to landfills? Explore these key concepts by reading one or more of the following:
Reading List

Refer to writing instructions under each page of the template provided in step 4.5. Open articles in new tabs and add them to your bibliography tool.

  1. Planned obsolescence: Why things don't last.
  2. The Truth About Planned Obsolescence. (Ignore the ad at the end.)
  3. Understand Circular Flows. Captioned.

5.2 Explore raw materials and e-waste.

Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors in a computer chip doubles every 1 or 2 years while the cost is cut in half, has created the desire for humans to frequently upgrade their devices. Discarded electronic devices often go unused and unrecycled. Even devices that do get reused or recycled may eventually end up in a landfill if they are not disassembled and resourced. Most of the plastics, precious metals, glass, etc. can be resourced, but often are not. Explore these key concepts by reading one or more of the following:

Reading List

Refer to writing instructions under each page of the template provided in step 5.5. Open articles in new tabs and add them to your bibliography tool.

  1. The Extraordinary Raw Materials in an iPhone 6s.
  2. Cobalt mining for phones: How you could be holding a product of child labour.
  3. China - World's dumping ground for Electronic Waste.
  4. MIT's MoniTour E-trash Transparency Project. Load the app and see real-time tracking of devices.

5.3 Explore workforce, safety, and prosperity.

Workers around the globe have different experiences in levels of safety and pay rates, which has created quite a gap between the rich and poor in terms of livability. Explore these key areas by reading one or more of the following:

Reading List

Refer to writing instructions under each page of the template provided in step 5.5. Open articles in new tabs and add them to your bibliography tool.

  1. Life and death in Apple’s forbidden city "In an extract from his new book, Brian Merchant reveals how he gained access to Longhua, the vast complex where iPhones are made and where, in 2010, unhappy workers started killing themselves." Discover more in this recent report: Apple Supplier Workers Describe Noxious Hazards at China Factory. Captioned.
  2. High-Tech Manufacturing's Disposable Workers.
  3. Average Tech Salaries Across USA (highly-skilled) and Factory Worker Salaries in the United States (low-skilled) and Average Cost Of A Factory Worker In The U.S., China And Germany infographic.
  4. Why Amazon Really Raised Its Minimum Wage to $15
  5. Unfulfilled; Amazon: Is the world's largest online retailer underpaying its employees? (Login to your OSU Library account first.)
  6. Immigrant Workforce (USA 2015)

5.4 Laws related to hardware and the workforce.

Safety means people are protected from (or are unlikely to cause) danger, risk, or injury. (Google 2016). In the USA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is charged with setting and enforcing standards, reviewing complaints, and training companies to follow laws and standards. Explore laws by reading one or more of the following:

Reading List

Refer to writing instructions under each page of the template provided in step 5.5. Open articles in new tabs and add them to your bibliography tool.

  1. OSHA's It's the Law poster.
  2. Whistleblower Protection.
  3. The Stop BEZOS Act
  4. Machine Learning in Manufacturing: present and future use-cases.
  5. How AI Builds A Better Manufacturing Process
  6. How Technology Can Improve Human Performance And Safety In Industry 4.0
  7. 3 Innovations In The Safety Industry Happening Right Now

5.5 Set up the Template and Reading List.

Use the following template link to complete this research and writing assignment.

  1. Login to your OSU Google Account.
  2. Launch this chapter's Explore Topics Template. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bcEbHr2jw4j0JDfrlBzdDxCu0YX0WygyItiuH6yUMvk/edit?usp=sharing
  3. Do not request permission to use the file. Login to your OSU Google Account.
  4. Once you have the file open:
    1. FileMake a copy.
    2. Rename the new file so it includes your "First and Last name" in place of "Template".
    3. Move the file into a folder for this course.
  5. Add your name to the cover page.
  6. Read instructions on the cover page. When in doubt about how to write in the templates, refer back to this page for clarification.
  7. Refer to the green instructions below each page to understand what is required.
  8. The last page requires a bibliography.

5.6 Edit, download, and submit the file.

  1. Ctrlc or c Copy the bibliographic entries you made during the Explore Topics reading and research. On the last page of the template, Ctrlv or v paste in the bibliographic entries. Select the list and apply the bullet or numbered list icon. Update the font size to 14 if necessary. Add more pages if necessary.
  2. Check and correct grammar and spelling using the built-in functions.
  3. From the File menu, choose Download as PDF.
  4. Check to confirm that hyperlinks work in the new PDF file. If they do not work, then in the Assignment Commenting Box, leave a note stating which platform, operating system, and browser you used to print or download the PDF file.
  5. Copy of the file to a backup folder on your hard drive.
  6. Submit the PDF file by uploading it in the Canvas Assignment screen.
  7. Confirm that your file has uploaded by looking for the document icon in the Grades area.

Examine a Case Discussion: Disruptive Hardware Technologies

In general, an innovative technology (tool or method) will affect business markets in stages, then, the infrastructure necessary to deliver and sustain its growth must evolve to keep up. When a technology becomes entrenched in day-to-day systems, it disrupts the way people think and behave.

If you've only been alive a couple of decades, then you may not be aware of older technologies that have drastically affected your life. Or you may not notice how quickly a society and its infrastructure will change to accommodate innovation.

To get a sense of that history, you and your classmates will collaborate on the development of a historical timeline of disruptive electrical and mechanical hardware technologies. You'll synthesize research about a single technology's environmental and societal impacts and add an excerpt to a spreadsheet. A JavaScript will display your compiled data in the interactive timeline below.

5.7 Pick a topic.

  1. Four days before the Due date, scroll through this list of disruptive technologies and choose one to research: If you need more inspiration, read these articles:
  2. In a word processing document, write up your research:
    1. Specify the year of the invention.
    2. Create a short title using this form: Jane Doe [inventor name] invents the Acme Gadget [hardware name].
    3. Describe the invention's purpose and raw materials.
    4. Describe the invention's impact on the environment.
    5. Describe the invention's impact on society.
    6. Locate an illustration or movie about how the invention works.
      • Copy the URL of the image by right-clicking on it and choosing Copy Image Address.
      • Note that the URL cannot be to a web page; it must be to a movie or image file. For most image URLs, the address will end in one of these extensions: .GIF, .PNG, or .JPG.
      • If you chose a movie, click the button to copy the movie URL.
    7. Write a descriptive caption for the media.
    8. Write a copyright statement for the media.

5.8 Collaborate to create a timeline.

Use the writing from step 5.7 to complete an entry in the timeline:

  1. Login to your OSU Google Account.
  2. Open this shared Google Sheets Timeline Template on your Google drive.
  3. If there is no empty row in the spreadsheet, use the Add 1 more rows at the bottom button.

    Do not add more than one row. If you add 1000 rows, it will mess up the timeline. Delete extra rows.

    Be careful not to edit anyone else's row.
  4. Bell Labs' invention of solar cells has been added as an example:
    Solar Cell invention is added to the timeline.
    Right-click and open image in a new tab to zoom in.
  5. In the new row, type the year of the hardware's invention in the Year column/cell.
  6. In the Display Date column/cell, type the year again.
  7. In the Header column/cell, type the inventor's name and invention. Keep it short! Just like this: Soandso invents the Acme Gadget.
  8. In the Text column/cell, paste in the paragraph about its purpose, raw materials, and its environmental and social impacts.
  9. In the Media column/cell, paste in the live URL of the image or movie.
  10. In the Credit column/cell, paste in the copyright statement for the media.
  11. In the Caption column/cell, paste in the media description/caption.
  12. In the Student Name column/cell, type your first and last name.
  13. Do not leave any blank rows, or your classmates will not be able to see all of them. Click on any empty row selector, right-click, and delete.

Doesn't your timeline entry look great!

Solar Cell invention is added to the timeline.

Your spreadsheet entries are now displayed below in an interactive timeline and should look something like this.

Timeline entries should have a date, a concise title, a detailed description, an image or movie, the copyright symbol with owner's name, and a caption to describe the image/movie. Your name will not show up in the timeline but will help us score your entry from the spreadsheet.

5.9 Participate in the Group Discussion.

  1. Scroll through the timeline (below) and read your classmates' entries.
    Right-click on the timeline and choose Reload frame. Navigate to your entry to confirm it works.

    Then, look for a different entry to discuss. Which entries are new to you? Which ones are intriguing? Pick one to write about.
    If interested, learn how to integrate spreadsheet data, the timeline JavaScript, and web pages at Northwest University's KnightLab.
  2. Two days before the Due date, start writing in a word processing document to synthesize what you learned about one hardware invention found in the interactive timeline.
    • In paragraph 1, describe and cite one of the hardware invention timeline entries. What was its purpose and what raw materials are used?
    • In paragraph 2, describe and cite the positive and negative environmental impacts of the hardware invention.
    • In paragraph 3, describe and cite the positive and negative social impacts of the hardware invention.
    • If you chose a topic/article that lacked enough detailed writing, use research to complete the requirements.
    • Check the word count (150+ per paragraph, not counting the author names or article titles).
    • Check the hyperlinks (they must be in article titles, law names, or theory/approach names).
    • Spellcheck, fix grammar, then Ctrlc or c to copy the paragraphs.
    • Click the Chapter 5 Examine a Case Discussion in Canvas.
    • Ctrlv or v to paste the copied text into a Reply thread (click the Reply field to activate the editing box).
    • Save your thread.
  3. Extra Credit:
    Before the Due date, reply to at least one person in your group.
    • In paragraph 1, discuss a counter-argument related to their analysis of the hardware invention. Describe and cite an article that supports your argument.
    • Check the word count (150+ not counting the author names or article titles).
    • Save your thread.

Need Help?

Share a Google Slides file with the Instructor.

If you have questions about using the template, the research prompts, or writing conventions, you can share your file with the instructor.

  1. With your file, open, click the Sharing button at the top right of the screen.
  2. Change the settings so that only people at OSU can view the file.
  3. Copy the resulting URL/address.
    Right-click to change sharing settings.
    Change settings so that only OSU people can view. Copy the link.
  4. Paste the resulting URL into a Canvas Inbox message to the instructor (or if you have already submitted your file, provide it in the Assignment Commenting box).

Work offline without Wi-fi

If you will be out of wi-fi range, feel free to work on your files offline.

  1. Click the blue Docs icon (or orange Slides or green Sheets icon).
  2. Select the file(s) to use offline.
  3. Select the 3-dot More menu
  4. Toggle on the Available Until button.
  5. Look at the list of files to view the new Available Offline icon next to the file name.

Writing Tutors

Consult one or more of these resource for a review of the structure of your writing, grammar, and spelling. Provide the tutor with a link to the instructions as well as your project online.

NetTutor's Paper Center
Access online tutoring via Canvas. 48-hour turnaround.
OSU Online Writing Suite
Electronic feedback from home, asynchronous email consultation, or synchronous Skype consultation.
OSU Undergrad Research & Writing Studio
Drop in writing help with no wait times. Standard hours are:
Monday to Thursday → 10:00am to 10:00pm
Friday → 10:00am to 5:00pm, and
Sunday → 2:00pm to 7:00pm.
OSU Academic Integrity Tutorials
Citing sources and using TurnItIn.

Use the Service Desk if you have computer, ONID, or Canvas problems.

But first:

  1. Logout.
  2. Close the browser and relaunch it.
  3. Login to OSU.
  4. Still have problems? Contact Service Desk.

Scoring Criteria

If you have questions about how to use any of the required technologies for this lesson or what these criteria mean, please reread the relevant lessons, then ask the Instructor via the Canvas Inbox.

Check Canvas Home, Assignments, and Calendar for the most current Due date and time. The Available Until date and time constitutes a grace period, which can be used in an emergency or if you are ill.

By the end of chapter 5, these items must be included in the assignments to earn full points:

Explore Topics

  1. Hardware Design Models page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  2. Raw Materials and E-Waste page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  3. Workforce, Safety, and Prosperity page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  4. Hardware and Workforce Laws and Organizational Guidelines page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  5. Illustration or movie explaining a critical hardware lifecycle concept is included with a detailed description and is properly cited with a copyright statement.
  6. Bibliography page includes a list of references (4 or more expected).
  7. Writing is free of plagiarism.
  8. Writing is free of grammar and spelling errors.

Examine a Case Discussion

  1. Interactive timeline Year and Display Date fields are entered as the same year.
  2. Interactive timeline Header field says just the inventor name and invention.
  3. Interactive timeline Text field includes the inventions purpose, raw materials, and the social and environmental impacts.
  4. Interactive timeline Media field includes a URL to a movie, PNG, JPG, or GIF file.
  5. Interactive timeline Credit field includes a proper copyright statement.
  6. Interactive timeline Caption field includes a description of the illustration.
  7. Discussion thread describes another student's hardware invention entry.
  8. Discussion thread describes that entry's positive and negative environmental impacts.
  9. Discussion thread describes that entry's positive and negative social impacts.
  10. Extra Credit: Discussion includes a reply to another student's thread which counters their analysis and cites a supporting article.