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Communications of the ACM


It Is Time for More Critical CS Education

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Credit: Andrij Borys Associates, Shutterstock

We live in uncertain times. A global pandemic has disrupted our lives. Our broken economies are rapidly restructuring. Climate change looms, disinformation abounds, and war, as ever, hangs over the lives of millions. And at the heart of every global crisis are the chronically underserved, marginalized, oppressed, and persecuted, who are often the first to befall the tragedies of social, economic, environmental, and technological change.3

You might think these issues have little to do with computing. But you would be wrong. The weaving of computing through society has not only involved computing in these crises, but, in many ways, placed computing at their centers. Computers increasingly mediate our communication. Automation is accelerating economic restructuring, destabilizing work, and devaluing labor. The demand for information is increasing carbon outputs and exploitative mining of rare metals. Social media is amplifying falsehoods. The Internet is the new battleground of modern warfare. And in all of these systems, data and algorithms amplify racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism, xenophobia, cisheteronormativity, and other forms of inequity, injustice, and bias.2,3 Computing does not occur in a vacuum: it shapes and is shaped by ever-evolving social, cultural, institutional, and political forces.


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