Computer Science Ethics: A Growth Area for Philosophy?

An increasing number of universities across the country are beginning to offer courses in “computer science ethics,” The New York Times reports.

This semester, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are jointly offering a new course on the ethics and regulation of artificial intelligence. The University of Texas at Austin just introduced a course titled “Ethical Foundations of Computer Science”—with the idea of eventually requiring it for all computer science majors.

And at Stanford University, the academic heart of the industry, three professors and a research fellow are developing a computer science ethics course for next year. They hope several hundred students will enroll.

The idea is to train the next generation of technologists and policymakers to consider the ramifications of innovations—like autonomous weapons or self-driving cars—before those products go on sale.

While the article says that some of these courses are being offered through philosophy departments, none of the specific courses mentioned in the article were philosophy courses. If you or your department offer such a course, feel free to share a description of it in the comments.

Philosophy departments often partner up with other units on campus to meet curricular needs, for various reasons. Perhaps after biomedical ethics, business ethics, and engineering ethics, perhaps the next growth area is computer science ethics.

Oh, and if you haven’t yet seen this:

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