Teaching Computer Technology Ethics

Toppoling blocks spelling ethics

A group of companies have challenged U.S universities and colleges to integrate computer technology ethics and responsibility into computer science undergraduate programs. The Responsible Computer Science Challenge will give $3.5 million in awards to schools between December 2018 and July 2020 that meet this challenge. Companies Mozilla, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Omidyar Network and Schmidt Futures are backing this challenge.

These days there is a great deal more responsibility that comes with programming and writing code in regard to privacy and online safety. With the introduction of ethics into these programs, students will be more aware of the issues that can arise while they’re writing a program and can take steps to protect the end user.

Stage 1 winners of the Responsible Computer Science Challenge were announced on April 30th, 2019.  This first stage, which was the Concept Development and Pilot Stage, had goals which called for existing computer science courses to integrate ethics either by adjusting teaching methods or changing the syllabus. Up to $150,000 was awarded to the winners to develop their ideas.

Stage 2 of the challenge is the Spread and Scale Stage, which will support the most promising changes developed in Stage 1, to be announced in July 2020.

A total of 17 schools were announced as Stage 1 winners. Listed below are a couple of the winners and what they plan to study.

Allegheny College – Meadville, PA

 Students will study potential societal and ethical challenges while studying artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Washington University – St. Louis, MO

Students will attend group discussions about their skills and how they interconnect with issues like data security and privacy.

With the integration of ethics and responsibility into computer science programs, students will be required to think about the future and how to make the Internet and technology safer to use. Technology is all about change and teachers and students alike will be looking forward to next year when their ideas will be built upon and improved.  Stay tuned for the announcement of the Stage 2 winners in July 2020.

The Responsible Computer Science Challenge was launched in October 2018 in an effort to minimize the adverse consequences that technology can have on our society.  A further goal is for products to be designed in a responsible fashion before being brought to market.

We congratulate this corporate group for stepping up to bring computer technology ethics to the forefront.