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The Ethics of Computer Science: This Researcher Has a Controversial Proposal


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Results from artificial intelligence-based vehicle- and person-recognition software.

The chair of ACM's Future of Computing Academy proposes the computer science community revise its peer review process to get scientists to report potential negative consequences of their published work.

Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

In an interview, Brent Hecht, chair of ACM's Future of Computing Academy, proposes the computer science community revise its peer review process to guarantee that scientists report any potential negative societal consequences of their published work.

Hecht says the idea is to have reviewers contact researchers with the appeal that, as good scientists, they should fully describe possible outcomes of their research before they will be allowed to publish.

He says panels that decide on research funding "might want to have different rules, and consider whether to fund a research proposal if there's a reasonable suspicion that it could hurt the country."

Hecht says the proposal appears to be gaining favor in the computer science community, because "we're moving towards a more iterative, dialogue-based process of review, and authors would need to cite rigorous reasons for their concerns."

From Nature
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