Social Implications of Computer Technology

CS 195, Fall 2021


Essay Essay Proposal Due Essay Due Peer Reviews Due Links
1 Sunday 9/26 Wednesday 09/29 Wednesday 10/06 Proposal Form
Submission Link
2 - - - -


You will write two short essays (500-1000 words) of varying format in relation to issues discussed in class. Essays are peer reviewed, which means you will review six essays and have each of your essays reviewed by three of your peers.

Essay 1 (Proposal Form)

Proposal due: Sunday, September 26th (soft deadline).
Essay Due: Wednesday, September 29th (hard deadline, no exceptions).
Peer reviews due: Wednesday, October 6th.

Assignment Description

Choose your own essay related to one of the lecture topics from the first five weeks (Free Speech, Privacy, Government Censorship and Surveillance, Jobs, Education). You may also discuss multiple topics. Here are the three focus areas you may choose:

  • Debates. Discuss a controversial and/or unresolved issue related to your chosen topic. This could be a current or historical debate, where you choose a side (please explain why you chose this side), and discuss the merits and demerits of both sides of the argument equally so that readers have a clear view of both sides.
  • Impact of Computing. Choose a field of study, hobby, or profession and describe how computing is affecting it, with an emphasis on your choice of lecture topic. You could choose, for example, the responsibility of rank-and-file engineers to protect user privacy from government surveillance.
  • Emerging Technology. Discuss an emerging technology. What are its social implications on your chosen topic?

For example, suppose I were very interested in Government Censorship and Surveillance, specifically how Facebook is trying to adjust its business model to avoid losing business in censorship heavy countries. I might use this article, and submit a topic proposal for "How do Social Media companies gain market share in censored markets?"

Due to constraints with the platform we use for peer grading, we cannot offer any extensions to anyone for any reason. If you forget or have a technical glitch we will have a makeup essay later at the very end of the semester. Essays should be short: In the range of 500-1000 words. The goal is for you to explore a topic that you find interesting! Your essays will ultimately be graded (on a 0, 1, or 2 scale) by your peers.


Please upload your essay by going to the following link on CrowdGrader. You will need to create an account using your Berkeley email address and upload your essay in .txt or .pdf format.


You will be evaluated on the following criteria by about three of your peers on a scale of 0 to 2:

2: The essay discusses the assigned topic, makes at least one coherent argument, and provides evidence or examples as support.
1: The essay discusses the assigned topic and attempts an argument, but it should be rewritten.
0: The essay is not coherent at all, blank, or irrelevant to the assignment.

Ethics in the News

You will complete an Ethics in the News assignment. Details to be released.