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Universities Rush to Roll Out Computer Science Ethics Courses


Laura Norn teaching a data science ethics course at New York University.

Universities that helped produce some of Silicon Valleys top technologists are hustling to bring a more medicine-like morality to computer science.

Credit: Sam Hodgson/The New York Times

U.S. universities are starting to offer ethics courses relating to computer science, with the hope of training next-generation technologists and policymakers to weigh the social and moral ramifications of innovations before they are commercialized.

One factor driving this trend is the popularization of tools such as machine learning, which have the potential to significantly change human society.

"We need to at least teach people that there's a dark side to the idea that you should move fast and break things," says New York University's Laura Noren. "You can patch the software, but you can't patch a person if you...damage someone's reputation."

A joint Harvard University-Massachusetts Institute of Technology course concentrates on the ethical, policy, and legal implications of artificial intelligence. The course also covers the proliferation of algorithmic risk scores that use data to predict whether someone is likely to commit a crime.

From The New York Times
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