Rambling on Ethics in Computer Science
Department of Computer Science
ESP-IGERT Faculty Member
Sept 10, at 2pm in SEO 1000
ABET accreditation for Computer Science degrees requires a course in computer ethics, to the horror of numerous students who view the field as a technology-only discipline. In the past few years I’ve taught several
ethics classes, each covering different topics---from Heidegger on standing reserves to RIAA on music sharing.
Although my professional publications are in formal methods, my interest in computer ethics was piqued while working at NSF where I became involved with the problems surrounding the social aspects of computing for data
sharing and transfer. I had to decide about companies sharing malware data with scientists and the risks to privacy in medical informatics projects. This led to much musing on what are the ethical principles that should
guide computer scientists, how can data be collected and shared ethically, and what mechanism should we, as computer scientists, be developing to enable and facilitate the ethical management of data in a cyberspace of
In this talk I’ll give some of the "philosophical” reasons arguing for incorporating ethical thinking when developing technology in general (e.g., drones), and in computer science in particular, critique the existing codes of ethics (e.g., ACM, IEEE, ICCP) and suggest some challenges that should be overcome to reach the idealistic goal of ethical data sharing.
Disclaimer: I have background in neither philosophy nor ethics. Just like many of my students (albeit with fewer complaints!), I had to wrestle with the dilemmas in practice and in the abstract, drawing upon the wisdom of
philosophers, colleagues, experts, and more along the way.