Conclusion - Fri, Dec 6

The final will cover all content through November 22. This was the end of the Declarative Programming (SQL) unit.

Ways to Get Involved in 61A


Developing software is all about having an impact on society. In university courses, it might seem like clockwork for a CS student to solve problems and some other student in some other department to worry about the social implications. In practice, the people that develop software are the only ones in a position to shape it in a way that it makes the world better instead of worse.

Privacy Policies & Laws

The amount of data that people feed into software is vast.

People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.

Mark Zuckerberg, San Francisco, 2010

The issue of data privacy has got the attention of lots of world leaders, but it's still not in place.

We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States. There, and everywhere, it should be rooted in four essential rights:

  1. The right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to de-identify customer data, or not to collect it in the first place.
  2. The right to knowledge. Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for. This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn’t. Anything less is a sham.
  3. The right to access. Companies should recognize that data belongs to users, and we should all make it easy for users to get a copy of, correct, and delete their personal data.
  4. The right to security. Security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights.

Tim Cook, Brussels, 2018

The importance of this speech is best seen through its impact on Apple: Tim Cook's speech has a great impact on the way Apple and other companies conduct business, so seeing a leader of a tech giant making such a statement is big.

Speculation, though, includes the thought that this was a publicity action, that Cook wanted Apple to be at the forefront of something, even if its something that harms Apple.

That said, this brings up a set of important points for lawmakers worldwide as well as for software developers. You as a developer have to think about the implications of your actions not only immediately but also in the long run. Google is a good example of a company that has faced unintentional privacy stumbles that they didn't think about when they first started out but now taint the company's reputation.

There are courses at Berkeley such as CS 195 (Social Implications of Technology John Denero) that teach students about society and technology together.

Perils of Sharing

A persistent source of privacy breaches is sending a message to an unintended recipient. This is more of a user experience/software development issue rather than a privacy/policy issue, as your design isn't clear enough for people to send things to the intended recipient.


Automated Decision Making

Self-driving cars are a very pertinent issue. What if a self-driving car faces the trolley problem?

This is a rare case, but the real issue is preventable problems. What happens if a self-driving car kills a pedestrian that it could've avoided? What if it sees that the pedestrian is walking a bicycle across the road, but it decides the person was riding said bicycle and thought the bicycle would clear the path?

The system kept relabeling the object as a pedestrian, bicycle, motorbike, or unknown, and in doing so kept throwing away past data on its movement. The problem stabilized 1.2 seconds before the accident. The system knew a collision was eminent, but didn't hit the brakes. The pedestrian would've been hit, but could've been kept alive.

Instead of braking, the system alerted the driver that there may be a problem. Human response time is most certainly not quick enough to react, recognize the issue, and hit the brakes. This was a case of bad design.

Uber had disabled emergency braking to improve user experience by not braking on false positives at the expense of emergency response. Was this a good idea?


  1. Freedom. If you have a skill that's in demand, you get to choose what you work on. If there's too many things to do, then we all have time to work on. Your choice impacts what's done now and what's delayed until later.
  2. Power. Technology is constantly placing power in the hands of the people who create it. If you can build something new, you get wealth as well as sociopolitical influence. People will listen to you. Don't screw it up.
  3. Self-Worth. Don't compare. Your worth has nothing to do with what others do, only with what you achieve in life, what you're capable of, how you choose to spend your time, and whether you're able to make a difference.

This has been CS 61A.