ACM CEO Bobby Schnabel last week considered the ethical ramifications of computer science's evolution as it pertains to society at a colloquium of students and professors. "I would argue that [computing] has become more of a socio-technical discipline than a purely technical discipline," he said.
Schnabel said cautious ethical consideration is necessary with the field's growing role in many industry sectors, including transportation, entertainment, health, and biology. "There is a crazy tradeoff between privacy and security," he noted, voicing the contradiction of some people opposing technological surveillance while others laud the technology's ability to promote safety.
Schnabel cited driverless cars as an example of computing's capacity to strengthen and weaken other industries at the same time. Some audience members voiced concerns about how technology can add costs to families on a budget, the notion there will always exist a barrier between technology and society, and social media's potential to become an outlet for bogus news.
Speaking at the Colorado School of Mines, Schnabel said in the midst of these anxieties, the promotion of diversity is a key focus for ACM. He warned a lack of diversity in technology design can have calamitous effects, noting "the biggest point by far is the creativity that comes from diversity."
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