Teaching ethics in computer science the right way with Georgia Techs Charles Isbell

The new fall semester is upon us, and at elite private colleges and universities, it’s hard to find a trendier major than Computer Science. It’s also becoming more common for such institutions to prioritize integrating ethics into their CS studies, so students don’t just learn about how to build software, but whether or not they should build it in the first place. Of course, this begs questions about how much the ethics lessons such prestigious schools are teaching are actually making a positive impression on students. But at a time when demand for qualified computer scientists is skyrocketing around the world and far exceeds supply, another kind of question might be even more important: Can computer science be transformed from …

What Sci-Fi Can Teach Computer Science About Ethics

This story is part of a series on how we learn—from augmented reality to music-training devices. The protagonist of Rebecca Roanhorse’s short story “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM” is a bit of a sad sack. A guide for a VR tourism company in Sedona, Arizona, he leads “vision quests” in a digital guise taken straight from Little Big Man. He’s Native American in our corporal realm as well, just not the sort tourists wish to commune with, he argues—until one does, stealing his job and his life story. Heartbreaking yet ambiguous, the story won a bunch of top sci-fi honors, including a Nebula and a Hugo. For the students in Emanuelle Burton’s ethics class, the story is tricky to …

Why AI needs more social workers, with Columbia Universitys Desmond Patton

Sometimes it does seem the entire tech industry could use someone to talk to, like a good therapist or social worker. That might sound like an insult, but I mean it mostly earnestly: I am a chaplain who has spent 15 years talking with students, faculty, and other leaders at Harvard (and more recently MIT as well), mostly nonreligious and skeptical people like me, about their struggles to figure out what it means to build a meaningful career and a satisfying life, in a world full of insecurity, instability, and divisiveness of every kind. In related news, I recently took a year-long paid sabbatical from my work at Harvard and MIT, to spend 2019-20 investigating the ethics of technology and …