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Global perspectives on teaching AI ethics

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Stefanie Ullmann.

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Although the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been discussed extensively since at least the 1950s, the way in which future computer scientists, information engineers, and software developers are taught about this crucial topic at university differs vastly. In many countries it is still possible to study subjects such as machine learning or natural language processing to the highest level, without ever having to consider the ethical implications of autonomous intelligent systems, their underlying algorithms, and/or the data they are trained on. This provides a striking contrast to, say, Medical Sciences, which cannot usually be studied to degree level anywhere in the world without at least one compulsory ethics module having been taken. While many higher-education institutions around the world have recently attempted to integrate the teaching of AI ethics more fully into their (computer) science courses, there is a general lack of consultation and collaboration about the form and content of these courses. As a result, they have markedly different principles, practices and priorities. This discussion-based workshop will provide an opportunity for those who teach AI ethics to students of science subjects at university to share ideas about what they teach and how they teach it, and may lead to a useful identification of common ground that connects differing ideologies and methodologies. The discussions will consider fundamental questions that at present have no widely-agreed answers, such as:

which topics should be covered in such courses? which specific pedagogical strategies are most effective, and in which specific teaching contexts? how can ethical considerations be integrated practically into very technical subjects, such as modifying system architectures, developing particular neural models, and annotating and/or pre-processing training data? academics from which disciplines are best placed to deliver that teaching?’ and, crucially, how should the ethical literacy of the students taking such courses be formally assessed?

The workshop will be an important platform for teachers and experts from a variety of academic fields to exchange experiences and ideas, which, we hope, will lead the way for an improved and more (trans) nationally aligned approach to teaching ethics. It is envisaged that this will be the first in a series of such discussions.

See CRASSH ’s website for information about the programme and speakers.

This workshop is convened by Giving Voice to Digital Democracies, a research project which is part of the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge, and organised by Marcus Tomalin (Cambridge) and Stefanie Ullmann (Cambridge). The workshop is funded by the Humanities and Social Change International Foundation.

Further information This is a free event but registration is required. Both in-person and online tickets are available. For those attending online, we will email your Zoom joining details 24 hours before the event. Please also check your Spam folder. The workshop will be recorded and the video uploaded to CRASSH ’s YouTube channel.

This talk is part of the Giving Voice to Digital Democracies series.

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