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Expert system is a field which covers artificial intelligence. They are computer programs that attempt to replicate the performance of a human expert on some specialised reasoning task. A great example where expert systems are being implemented is the protection of endangered species found in case study relating to expert system. At airports such as Heathrow, customs are often faced with the task of identifying the particular species of animal or reptiles that, say, a handbag has been made from – not an easy task when there are over 35, 000 different species of snake alone, each with a different level of protection.
A new form of an expert system called ‘ Nemsis’, a computer system that can identify the species that a product is made from. It contains a computer program that compares a photograph of the product with its database and then displays the species to the user. At moment, it only stores information on the 15 most traded snake skins, but the developers hope that it will eventually be able to identify all species, and will also be used on furs.
The difficulty with computer crime is that it extends country boundaries and is a subject to heavy political debate. Locating criminal activity can be seen problematic since the easiest method would be to monitor every computer on a network to detect illegal activity. The ethical dilemma is that these monitoring techniques invade personal privacy. The computer misuse act of 1990 was introduced to help combat crime. It defines three criminal offences to deal with the problems of hacking, viruses and other nuisances. The potential impact of computer based fraud or of hacking is tremendous because of the almost total reliance which is now placed on electronic computers and networks for managing and transferring money. Not only has computerisation led to new forms of crime not to mention new ways of committing old crime such as, a paedophile ring may distribute child pornography over computer networks.
The right to privacy is a fundamental human right that we take for granted . With the introduction of large computerised databases it become quite feasible for sensitive personal information to be stored without the individuals’ knowledge. The data protection act of 1984 grew out of public concern about personal privacy in the face of rapidly developing computer technology. It provides rights for individuals and demands good information handling practice. Another problem is the misuse of personal information which can be easily distorted or misinterpreted leading to loss of anonymity on part of an individual .Peoples past and current lifestyles now influence their association with large organisations and decisions about individuals are increasingly made on the basis of computer based data and statistical profile.
Governments can now hold and process enormous amounts of data on their citizens reflecting a “Big Brother” conception to its general public. The dangers of these powers being abused are a perennial cause for concern in some quarters. The pressure to reduce fraud leads to the collection of information from the authorities. This can be beneficial in eliminating the abuse of government funds by individuals, but can be precarious in that a database on citizens might be abused by the authorities in the future.
General use of computers has lead to health issues arising. Those who use computers frequently have found problems have occurred due to this. Repetitive stain injury (RSI) causes pain in wrist, hand, neck and shoulder. People who use computers for long periods of time complain of eyestrain which is thought to be due to prolonged staring at computers screens with decreased blinking. The introduction of computers in the workplace can have detrimental effects on the well being of workers such as companies may use computers to monitor their workers productivity, which often leads to high level of stress. An article in the Guardian newspaper defines victims of repetitive strain injury. Five former part time workers who put cheques details into computers are claiming compensation for upper limb disorder including aches, stiffness and shooting pains in their arms. They had taken their case to court and won in which Midland Bank had to pay 45,000 compensation to any RSI sufferer.