Answer questions as follows

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Professional Skills & Ethics Workshop 3 Report

There are two articles. Answer questions as follows and post on Workshop 3 StudyZone area by 4th February 2010. Answers should be correctly formatted in a Word document with group names clearly marked. This can be done either as a group or individually.

New Generation of Robots Delivered to Cyberwidgets Inc.

1. How much input should an assembly line worker like Bart Matthews have into the process of designing a computer system with which he or she will eventually have to work?

Before the designing phase of the computer system the assembly line worker should be questioned about the work process that the system will cover, as the functions of production line should be recorded in detail in order to specify the requirements of the system. Furthermore, as the worker will be the future operator of the computerized system, he must have a contribution in the designing of the operational user interfaces by testing them and criticising what is problematic or what can become better and easier. Bart Mathews mentions the user interface as a disadvantage, which is a vital part for creating a solid HCI for every computer system.

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2. Bart Matthews indicated that he "trusts" the robot. Where do you think this trust comes from?

The trust of the operator to the robot is consisted by the following aspects:

  • Protects the workers from the heavy and unhealthy manual work of the shop floor areas
  • Reduces the working accidents
  • Speed ups the production of widgets
  • The robot "obeys" to the operator, meaning that its operation is trustworthy
  • The robot's functions are timely, exact and secure, showing a high Artificial Intelligence

Robot Kills Operator in Grisly Accident

1. Suppose you were charged with investigating the cause of the robot accident. Where would you begin? In other words, where would you expect to find the causes of the accident?

There are three viewpoints on finding the causes the robot accident. The first one recognises it as an accident that was caused either by a malfunction of the software/hardware. The second agrees with the first that it was really an accident but we must search the causes in the bad design of the user interface, the knowledge of the operator and the security measures of the working area. The last one looks out for any malice prepense. An insider may have changed one or two commands of the program, jammed the software, or if the robot software is a part of a LAN, we must check the jurisdiction of other operators to the command line.

2. Generate a list of possible causes, such as operator incompetence, hardware failure, a software bug and so on for the killer accident.

Assuming that it was really an accident, we recorded the following possible causes:

  • Malfunction of the hardware
  • Software bugs
  • Bad design of the operation console's interface
  • Security measures not included in the software/hardware
  • The operator wasn't sufficiently tutored on how to work with the console
  • Poor security measures

3. Generate a list of possible suspects, that is, people who might have played a role in causing the accident. At this point identify these people by position or responsibility such as 'hardware manufacturer' or 'software tester'.

If the accident was caused by a hardware or software malfunction, then Silicon Tectronics, the manufacturer of the robot, should take the responsibility for the accident. It seems wrong to put the blame in one person, the software tester or the software engineer, because the supervisor of the project could be equally responsible if a software bug is found. There are many people who may have made a mistake before the creation of software is completed (in analysis, design, coding, integration, testing and installing phase). Another great example of how responsibility is shared and not put in one person is the problematic interface of the operation console. First of all, the IT may have misunderstood the needs of the operators in the production line. Secondary, the software designer could implement a bad practice of HCI in the program. Next, the testing and the installation of the problem could create minor problems that wouldn't seem to interfere with the functions of the robot as many times as they were tested and the management agrees to finalize the project in order to sell it in time. So, the managers and directors of the company could be responsible as well. More, the company where Matthews worked is responsible too, for not taking seriously his complaints for the user interface and not having taken extra security measures.

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4. CyberWidgets want to place the Robbie CX30 back on line as soon as possible. Give a list of conditions under which you would be comfortable with the Robbie CX30 being returned to service. Pretend you are part of the CyberWidgets management.

  • The robot must be re-tested and verified that is secure (both software and hardware)
  • If it isn't Silicon Techtronics must undertake the responsibility for the accident and correct or ever redesign the CX30 model.
  • A user friendly interface must be built, considering that more operators find the interface problematic
  • Operators must be tutored by a specialist on how to work with the operation console
  • A on/off switch must be added to the robot
  • Extra protection measures in the working area (maybe a double solid glass between the operator and the robot)
  • 5. Discuss what moral imperatives in the BCS code of conduct are in danger of being abused in this case? http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=nav.6030
  • The public interest code is in danger of being abused by the manufacturer of the robot, as a probable malfunction will characterize them as irresponsible for the public health and safety. It isn't sure that they did make use of the relevant legislation, regulations and standards. In case that there were known minor problems of the robots then the company or the appropriate person withheld or misrepresented information on their performance. On the other hand, the directors of the company where the victim worked are professionally irresponsible for here workers, as the operator's knowledge and skills weren't sufficient for operating the robot. More, they didn't act with integrity in their relationship with the employee, as they rejected his complaints about the user interface.