Ethics

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Ethics

Postby Zombie Protestor » Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:28 am

Post your ethical quandaries here.

1) I have three classes all teaching binary/decimal and decimal/binary conversion. Believe me that I know how to do this. I wrote a vbscript that lets you input a binary or decimal number and it detects which one you put in and gives you the conversion. I had to write out the algorithm and tell the program how to do it. On these homework assignments where I'm supposed to be converting these by hand, is it wrong for me to use it?
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Re: Ethics

Postby James » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:48 am

Browsing the forum index from a zoomed-out view on my phone I read this thread's title as "Ethnics", and I thought "WOAH THERE, ZP".

As for your question, it'd be a bit dishonest, but doesn't homework like that mainly serve as practice for your benefit, anyway?
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Re: Ethics

Postby fanelian » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:21 pm

I don't think it's unethical, since you made the program yourself and you do know how it's done. The purpose of homework is for you to practice and learn, so you aren't going against it. However, I would try to do at least one by hand, just to prove myself.
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Re: Ethics

Postby EsBe » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:40 pm

Assuming that these are actually computer science classes and not, say, Basics of Literary Humor as Conveyed in Binary Notation, I can't see fault with using computer science to solve your HW.

edit: also having done this type of HW myself, it's about as repetitive and (non)satisfying as... well basically it's as repetitive as it gets. It's either dividing by two over and over again or adding powers of two (and who doesn't have those memorized, right?). Whee.
Last edited by EsBe on Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ethics

Postby EvilJekyll » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:42 pm

James wrote:Browsing the forum index from a zoomed-out view on my phone I read this thread's title as "Ethnics".

I did this as well. I was a little confused at first.

fanelian wrote:The purpose of homework is for you to practice and learn, so you aren't going against it.

I'd still do some as well just to get the hang of actually doing it by hand again. It may come in handy on a test or something (I don't really know your situation, but it's possible). It's one thing to do some basic algebra in your head, but another to actually show the work to prove you did it even if it may be slower.
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Re: Ethics

Postby James » Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:49 pm

Yeah, I'd politely disagree with the assertion that writing a program to do the exercise for you is equivalent to doing the exercise yourself. It may be that you will never have to do binary conversion by hand (I can't think of any instances where you would, other than perhaps some low-level messing about with flags or something), but I would have thought that the purpose of the assignment is to get you comfortable with the act of doing the conversion, not testing that you can get to the end result through any method you can work out. I don't think it's a tremendous deal, but I think using a program would be going against the purpose of the question.

Will there be exams at the end of this course? Are there likely to be binary conversion questions? If so, the value of the exercise should be self-apparent. If not, it's probably neither here nor there. I'm sure you understand the principles, which is the main thing.
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Re: Ethics

Postby EsBe » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:08 pm

James wrote:Yeah, I'd politely disagree with the assertion that writing a program to do the exercise for you is equivalent to doing the exercise yourself. It may be that you will never have to do binary conversion by hand (I can't think of any instances where you would, other than perhaps some low-level messing about with flags or something), but I would have thought that the purpose of the assignment is to get you comfortable with the act of doing the conversion, not testing that you can get to the end result through any method you can work out. I don't think it's a tremendous deal, but I think using a program would be going against the purpose of the question.

Will there be exams at the end of this course? Are there likely to be binary conversion questions? If so, the value of the exercise should be self-apparent. If not, it's probably neither here nor there. I'm sure you understand the principles, which is the main thing.

I don't know, it seems akin to getting a poet laureate to do your sentence-diagramming grammar homework by writing a persuasive essay that ultimately brings him or her to tears. :P
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Re: Ethics

Postby James » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:47 pm

Or like getting your robot to go to the gym for you.
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Re: Ethics

Postby Dusk » Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:27 am

I think it's very simple.
Zombie Protestor wrote:I'm supposed to be converting these by hand
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Re: Ethics

Postby Nyperold » Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:29 pm

Tangentially related (and not an ethics question), but my age has, since I was last here, become a palindrome in both binary and decimal.

Also, not related to the ethics part, but... if you put in a number that might be binary, does it ask? Like if you put in "101", does it give you a chance to say "Yes, this is binary" or "No, this is decimal", or does it just spit out "5"?
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Re: Ethics

Postby ntw3001 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:27 pm

Nyperold wrote:Tangentially related (and not an ethics question), but my age has, since I was last here, become a palindrome in both binary and decimal.


That calls for an extra-large party. In UK law, at least.
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Re: Ethics

Postby Zombie Protestor » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:52 am

Nyperold wrote:Also, not related to the ethics part, but... if you put in a number that might be binary, does it ask? Like if you put in "101", does it give you a chance to say "Yes, this is binary" or "No, this is decimal", or does it just spit out "5"?


Pseudocode:
If the number is:
> Eight characters long
> Composed of nothing but 0s and 1s
then
> binary
else
> decimal

So, to switch ethical topics, what do you think about special circumstances for downloading copyrighted content? For example, let's say you own something but are unable to use it. Maybe your friend lost your only copy of a movie and you download it. Maybe you own a book and download the e-book version for your e-reader.
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Re: Ethics

Postby GregorR » Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:28 am

My entirely useless answer is that our ethics, being mostly carried by tradition, have yet to cope with the radical change of non-scarce resources. Each person needs to define their own morality with respect to this new property of our universe, and those definitions should not be bound by the clicking gears of a hopelessly outdated legal system or unfortunately outmoded business practices. Eventually we will reach a consensus as a society on these issues, but we aren't even close to defining the issues yet, let alone solving them.
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Re: Ethics

Postby sum yun gai » Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:54 pm

i have a friend whose personal philosophy is "if they've made over a million in profit it's ok to take a copy for free". my own views on the subject are as long as you yourself are not profiting off of someone else's work (barring some kind of contractual agreement) then i have no problem with the infringement of copyright. it gets a little stickier when the copyright is a live broadcast such as a sporting event, since the majority of the league's revenues come from broadcast licensing agreements. but for static downloads, i think it's not a problem if the infringement is kept miniscule and no payment is expected or demanded.
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Re: Ethics

Postby jvcc » Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:31 pm

Questions of ownership and value become tricky with mass-produced art objects. The monetary value of most other art objects--say, a painting--resides mainly in the object itself, or we consider it to have some sort of inherent value. Of course it has abstract value (or else we wouldn't be able to determine whether it is truly "artistic" or not), but the physical original will have the highest value (i.e., "price") and then any recreations will be worth significantly less. The original is the ideal. We don't consider songs this way, possibly because songs are considered to be experiences rather than objects (obviously performance art is a largely uncommodifiable experience as well, but I was speaking of paintings). But as a commercialized form of art songs are commodified and objectified in the form of CDs, MP3s, etc. in order to be sold.

I'm not able to follow my thought to its logical conclusion like I thought it would be able to, but I'm certain that this conception of music has some sort of implications for how we view who owns it and how it should be valued. Bah. I have homework to do.
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Re: Ethics

Postby GregorR » Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:03 pm

jvcc wrote:We don't consider songs this way, possibly because songs are considered to be experiences rather than objects (obviously performance art is a largely uncommodifiable experience as well, but I was speaking of paintings). But as a commercialized form of art songs are commodified and objectified in the form of CDs, MP3s, etc. in order to be sold.


We definitely do consider music this way, this is why people pay for concert tickets. Music is just more fleeting than visual arts.
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Re: Ethics

Postby fanelian » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:31 am

Wether we like it or not, the artists should be able to profit from their work. We seem to have grown to expect to be entertained for free, and these guys have the right to aspire to the same things we do. While I disagree with the way the companies want to keep doing business, stubbornly denying the obvious need for a change in their models, I still think that it's not ok to download entire albums (or movies, or books, etc) "for free".

Movies have trailers, so I go to the movie theater to see the ones I get interested in and only buy those DVDs I really think I can watch over and over again. The radio used to serve this purpose for music, but nowadays it's all talk shows, and then a couple of hit songs that get over-played and they don't even have the decency to tell you who the artist is or what the song is called. I want to hear at least three songs from an album to decide to shell out the cash for the whole album, and I don't want to pay for trying those three songs, the same way I don't pay for trying on clothes. So play them in the radio, dang it. I think this even applies to other art forms: I wouldn't buy a print of a painting I've never seen, and when looking for a book to read I look for a description in the dust jacket, or a review or something that gives me a hint on what to expect from it.

The key for musicians, for example, to make their money should be to focus on concerts & merchandise, and put a stop to resellers to make sure they get their fair share of what concert-goers are actually willing to pay... But that would probably mean higher concert prices and people would maybe stop attending concerts and they'd be screwed. So I don't really know...

But, regarding ZP's original question, most CD's & DVD's come with some detachable printed "proof of purchase" that I've always imagined is to be used for the purpose of proving that you did buy an "original" copy and have a right to have a back up (I can't imagine what else that is for)... The problem with the "Lending to a friend scenario", is that you don't get a free wrench when you lend one to a friend and he loses it: you ask him to pay for it or get a new one for you.

Sorry for the long post that got nowhere.
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Re: Ethics

Postby James » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:46 pm

Yeah, I get the vague-dissatisfaction-with-big-corporations-combined-with-a-strong-desire-not-to-pay-for-stuff thing, but it really doesn't hold much water. If you don't like the big media companies, sure, don't give them your money, but the world doesn't owe you their output, and the creatives behind it certainly don't. You can argue all you like about whether or not they're being fucked over by their publishers or whoever, but until they actually put out their work through other means, or at least express that they're OK with people copying it, assuming that they're totally OK with you downloading it is absurd. Do you think a band would be happy if you came into the studio and ripped their latest album after they just put six months or however long into making it? In other words, if you wouldn't do it in front of the people who made it, you probably shouldn't do it at all. And even if the artists do give their blessing for you to download their stuff illegally, if that work was made possible to produce by the corporate structure you're sidestepping, the system is unsustainable. It's certainly possible to produce art without all that infrastructure, but if you like stuff that takes an awful lot of resources to produce, somebody's going to have to pay the money.

I'm not saying that existing models aren't outdated. I'm all for putting the customer first, and am a believer in the hypothesis that the way to beat piracy is to make the legal option more convenient. I'm just saying that the sense of entitlement people have is quite ugly. We think we're owed so much.

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With regards to Zombie Protestor's specific question, my traditional response was that if you've paid for something in a physical format, it's OK to obtain it digitally if that'll be more convenient. However, that was before digital distribution was as well-established as it is now, so the argument could be made that part of what it being sold in each format is the qualities that format embodies, such as convenience. Then again, I don't really think the software industry should be relying on repeat purchases due to accidental losses, so if you genuinely lost your legitimate copy through no fault of your own, I'd say you're morally in the clear, if not legally.
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Re: Ethics

Postby Low-Tech » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:06 pm

I have never been a fan of the "Well, they already made their millions, so why should "I" have to pay if I can find a way around it?" line of thinking. Smacks of arrogance. Nobody is forcing you buy anything, and one of the fundamental cornerstones of capitalist/free society is that a person can charge whatever they feel like for their time/goods/services and that the consumer is free to REFUSE said services if they don't like the price. You aren't entitled to get it for free simply because you don't want to pay the price, for whatever reason, but still WANT the item in question. That's why it's considered theft, and no amount of righteous howling at the faults of the modern recording/entertainment industry changes that.
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Re: Ethics

Postby EsBe » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:31 pm

I generally think I'm worth spending money on, therefore I lay down the dough when I want and can afford something, and proceed with my life blissfully ignorant of it when I don't.

Alas, this doesn't really solve the ethical conundrum of giving someone a mix tape, or whatever the modern digital equivalent is.
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Re: Ethics

Postby James » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:39 pm

EsBe wrote:Alas, this doesn't really solve the ethical conundrum of giving someone a mix tape, or whatever the modern digital equivalent is.

Legality aside, I think there's something more complex than straightforward theft going on in that instance. At best, a mixtape (or modern equivalent) should be a selection of music deliberately selected and set in sequence so as to achieve some kind of effect, or at least conform to a particular theme; in this case, the arrangement of tracks can be argued to be original work, even if to a much lesser degree than the music itself. And if a mixtape-or-equivalent isn't as carefully designed as that, I can only imagine it would have to be intended to serve as a method for exposing people to things they might not otherwise have heard, in which case it's functioning as a kind of marketing, albeit entirely unsanctioned and of debatable effectiveness.

Those are both rather high-minded descriptions of something that isn't necessarily the most noble thing in the world, but I'd hope that decent people would look into pursuing music they discover through such means through more legitimate channels. I'd say that it's certainly a much different thing than wholesale theft of music (although with individual album tracks being available for separate purchase, I suppose that line is getting fuzzier). It's a bit like clips from copyrighted material appearing on YouTube: sometimes it's altered or recontextualized in some way; sometimes it's small enough as not to pose any sort of a threat of financial loss to the copyright holders; and sometimes it's a whole thing that's available for sale, in which case it's probably not OK.

I should probably caution that my hands are far from clean on these issues. I'm describing ideals that I don't always stick to, but don't let my hypocrisy lead you astray. I try to temper my missteps, however; for example, I occasionally point out that the short-form format of the first series of Look Around You means that the entire series is readily available on YouTube, but I would follow this by recommending that those who find that they like it should buy it, as I have.

Incidentally, the modern equivalent of a mixtape is obviously a Mixtapir.
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Re: Ethics

Postby Nyperold » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:38 pm

Hmm. We generally say "mixtape" because the audio was stored on a cassette tape; you could say "mix"<whatever> where <whatever> is the type of storage, be it a CD, disk, or drive... or continue to say "mixtape" in the same way that you "dial" a phone.

But the mental image of giving someone a tapir and telling them "Enjoy listening to it" is pretty hilarious. :lol:
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Re: Ethics

Postby Binkatron5000 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:57 am

EsBe wrote:Basics of Literary Humor as Conveyed in Binary Notation

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