"[I]n the fall of 1994, Intel admitted that its highly touted and widely sold Pentium chip was not 100% reliable in carrying out arithmetic calculations. Intel admitted the flaws only after a mathematician publicy criticized t he chip's accuracy. Further, Intel lost credibility when it minimized the importance of the problem and was unwilling to automatically replace the millions of Pentium chips that it had sold. Intel's spokesperson claimed that the computational errors were exceptionally rare and would show up only in specially complex calculations. Critics retorted that the errors could occur more frequently and that even common financial calculations, could lead to erroneous results."

Kling, Computers and Controversy, p 752

Intel finally agreed to replace the chip for anybody who wanted a replacement. What are the ethical responsibilities of the manufacturer of a faulty product? How "faulty" does the product have to be? What actions do you think Intel took to prevent future occurrences of this kind of problem? What do you think Intel will do if this kind of problem happened again?


Just a few years ago, AOL, in an effort to get more business, adopted an "all-you-can-eat" pricing policy. For a fixed monthly fee, a customer could get unlimited access to AOL. Previously, AOL had a "pay-per-view" pricing policy. The new pricing policy resulted in overwhelming demand both from old customers and new customers. AOL's resources were overloaded and customers could not get into the system. AOL apologized, gave refunds, and make a crash effort to improve capacity.

One thing which caused the overloading was customers leaving their machines connected all of the time. When a customer has trouble getting in, the customer will just leave the connection open. AOL tried to curtail this behavior by dropping the connection to customers who didn't show any activity for a certain period of time. Of course, this action by AOL made customers mad.

What is the responsibility of a vendor who oversells capacity? What can a vendor do to prevent overselling? How is this case the same or different than the Israel cell phone case?

Lecture Sixteen--ICS 131--Win 2000--28 Feb 00

Review of Lecture Fifteen

Safety-critical applications

Some definitions





Hardware, software, and people

are all sources of difficulties
What can be done to avoid these problems?

Techniques for Increasing Reliability

Techniques of Software Development

Final Comments


Ethics One

Cases (see the two above)

(Additional copies of the ten recycled cases available

from Distribution Center

Friday hours 10-2:30)

Odds and Ends


204 ET will be available at 8 AM

PC and projector scheduled to arrive at 8:30

if you want to check things out

The version of Powerpoint available on the PC

will be the one in Office 97

All 131 students are welcome at both 9 and 10


Quiz on Monday--Last One

Look at the readings listed for Lec 15

Review Lectures 15 and 16

Look at the University of Delaware Ethics Quiz



Some other online material you might want to look at