Originally published October 10, 2018
Here is an excerpt:
There’s already a burgeoning movement to integrate ethics into the computer science classroom. Harvard and MIT have launched a joint class on the ethics of AI. UT Austin has an ethics class for computer science majors that it plans to eventually make a requirement. Stanford similarly is developing an ethics class within its computer science department. But many of these are one-off initiatives, and a national challenge of this type will provide the resources and incentive for more universities to think about these questions–and theoretically help the best ideas scale across the country.
Still, Baker says she’s sometimes cynical about how much impact ethics classes will have without broader social change. “There’s a lot of power and institutional pressure and wealth” in making decisions that are good for business, but might be bad for humanity, Baker says. “The fact you had some classes in ethics isn’t going to overcome all that and make things perfect. People have many motivations.”
Even so, teaching young people how to think about tech’s implications with nuance could help to combat some of those other motivations–primarily, money. The conversation shouldn’t be as binary as code; it should acknowledge typical ways data is used and help young technologists talk and think about the difference between providing value and being invasive.
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