Our report on Existing Competencies in the Teaching of Ethics in Computer Science Faculties has been sent to external reviewers and will soon be published!
In the meanwhile, here’s a sneak peak of what we have worked on!
Our has been devised with the goal of better understanding the current landscape of Ethics teaching in Computer Science higher education institutions across Europe. It is of central importance to the project to understand if and how Ethics is currently taught in Computer Science programmes, the background of the teaching staff, the scope of the curricula, the teaching practices and learning methods, assessment and learning outcomes.
Our study builds on a previous investigation from one of the project partners (Informatics Europe) where a selected group of experts from European Universities contributed to a discussion addressing issues like the perceived importance, relevance and possible implementation of the teaching of ethical/social impact of Computer in university degree programmes in this discipline. We extended and amplified that study, surveying more universities and adding more specific questions with the purpose of acquiring a broader understanding of the current practices for the teaching of Ethics in Computer Science across Europe.
Our study started in December 2019 when TU Dublin, together with Informatics Europe and Mälardalen University, developed the first draft of an online questionnaire. In January 2020, the online questionnaire was sent to all members and networking partners of Informatics Europe and European Digital Learning Network (D-Learn) reaching over 150 European Universities from more than 30 European countries.
The survey was structured in three parts. The first part consisted of demographic questions (Section A) answered by all 61 respondents. The rest of the questionnaire was split into two parts based on whether the respondent’s institution teaches Ethics as part of any Computer Science or related programmes. The second part (Section B) was addressed only to those that replied their institutions do not teach Ethics as part of any Computer Science or related programmes, 22 out of 61 respondents. The third part (Section C) was completed by the 39 participants who responded their institutions teaches Ethics as part of any Computer Science or related programmes.
The final goal of our study was to gain a better understanding and some guidelines on how to develop off-the-shelf teaching and assessment content and a Community of Practice that makes it easy for any Computer Science lecturer to deliver lessons on the topic of Digital Ethics.
The full report will be available soon at the outcomes section of the website! A must-read for any lecturer, professor, head of School/Department that wish to implement or ameliorate the teaching of Ethics in their institution.
Here’s a list of 5 Digital Ethics related books you might want to read this summer! The following readings can be appreciated by all types of audience, including people not working in the IT sector.
Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media by S. T. Roberts (2019)
Social media on the internet can be a nightmarish place. A primary shield against hateful language, violent videos, and online cruelty uploaded by users is not an algorithm. It is people. Mostly invisible by design, more than 100,000 commercial content moderators evaluate posts on mainstream social media platforms: enforcing internal policies, training artificial intelligence systems, and actively screening and removing offensive material—sometimes thousands of items per day.
Sarah T. Roberts, an award-winning social media scholar, offers the first extensive ethnographic study of the commercial content moderation industry. Based on interviews with workers from Silicon Valley to the Philippines, at boutique firms and at major social media companies, she contextualizes this hidden industry and examines the emotional toll it takes on its workers. This revealing investigation of the people “behind the screen” offers insights into not only the reality of our commercial internet but the future of globalized labor in the digital age.
Data Ethics: The New Competitive Advantage by G. Hasselbalch and P Tranberg (2016)
Respect for privacy and the individual’s right to control their own data is becoming a key competitive parameter. Companies, organisations and authorities that treat data ethics as a social responsibility as important as environmental awareness and respect for human rights are tomorrow’s winners. Digital trust is paramount for digital growth and welfare.
This book combines broad trend analysis with case studies of companies working with data ethics to varying degrees. The authors make the case how citizens and consumers are no longer just concerned about their lack of control over data, but also have begun to act, and how alternative business models, advances in technology and a new European data protection regulation combined foster a growing market for data ethical products and services. It provides a critical and fresh look at tech trends and the ethical dilemmas intertwined with them. It is a book for responsible players on how to get started with data ethics and how to use it to develop digital trust.
Ethical Reasoning in Big Data: An Exploratory Analysis (Computational Social Sciences)
by J. Collman and S. A. Matei, editors (2016)
This book springs from a multidisciplinary, multi-organizational, and multi-sector conversation about the privacy and ethical implications of research in human affairs using big data. The need to cultivate and enlist the public’s trust in the abilities of particular scientists and scientific institutions constitutes one of this book’s major themes. The advent of the Internet, the mass digitization of research information, and social media brought about, among many other things, the ability to harvest – sometimes implicitly – a wealth of human genomic, biological, behavioral, economic, political, and social data for the purposes of scientific research as well as commerce, government affairs, and social interaction.
What type of ethical dilemmas did such changes generate? How should scientists collect, manipulate, and disseminate this information? The effects of this revolution and its ethical implications are wide-ranging. This book includes the opinions of myriad investigators, practitioners, and stakeholders in big data on human beings who also routinely reflect on the privacy and ethical issues of this phenomenon. Dedicated to the practice of ethical reasoning and reflection in action, the book offers a range of observations, lessons learned, reasoning tools, and suggestions for institutional practice to promote responsible big data research on human affairs.
We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.
But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.
O’Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it’s up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.
Towards a Code of Ethics for Artificial Intelligence by P. Boddington (2017)
The author investigates how to produce realistic and workable ethical codes or regulations in this rapidly developing field to address the immediate and realistic longer-term issues facing us. She spells out the key ethical debates concisely, exposing all sides of the arguments, and addresses how codes of ethics or other regulations might feasibly be developed, looking for pitfalls and opportunities, drawing on lessons learned in other fields, and explaining key points of professional ethics.
The book provides a useful resource for those aiming to address the ethical challenges of AI research in meaningful and practical ways.
97 THINGS ABOUT ETHICS EVERYONE IN DATA SCIENCE SHOULD KNOW
Two researchers on the Ethics4EU project, Brendan Tierney (TU Dublin) and Damian Gordon (TU Dublin) have contributed chapters to an upcoming book “97 Things about Ethics Everyone in Data Science Should Know” from O’Reilly Media which will be released in August 2020.
The book is part of a larger series O’Reilly Media does called “97 Things”, each of which contains 97 chapters from a variety of authors on a given topic. This book is a collection designed to represent a wide range of voices and ideas from leading practitioners (industry and academia), from around the world, who have a clear point of view on some aspect of the ethical issues surrounding the field of data science.
The key themes of the book include:
What types of data science initiatives can be ethically undertaken
How to determine what data can be ethically utilized
Monitoring and maintenance needed to ensure a process’s ongoing ethical state
How to ensure that the results of a data science initiative are used ethically
What policies and procedures are needed to support all of the above
This book helps data professionals, managers, and tech leaders learn powerful, real-world best practices and get a better understanding for data ethics. It provides you with the things you need to know for ethically collecting, managing, and using data.
HOMO LUDENS MORALIS – DESIGNING AND DEVELOPING A BOARD GAME TO TEACH ETHICS FOR ICT EDUCATION
Damian Gordon (TU Dublin) presented the third Ethics4EU peer-reviewed paper at EthiComp 2020: The 18th International Conference on the Ethical and Social Impacts of ICT.
The ICT ethical landscape is changing at an astonishing rate, as technologies become more complex, and people choose to interact with them in new and distinct ways, the resultant interactions are more novel and less easy to categorise using traditional ethical frameworks. It is vitally important that the developers of these technologies do not live in an ethical vacuum; that they think about the uses and abuses of their creations, and take some measures to prevent others being harmed by their work.
To equip these developers to rise to this challenge and to create a positive future for the use of technology, it important that ethics becomes a central element of the education of designers and developers of ICT systems and applications. To this end a number of third-level institutes across Europe are collaborating to develop educational content that is both based on pedagogically sound principles, and motivated by international exemplars of best practice. One specific development that is being undertaken is the creation of a series of ethics cards, which can be used as standalone educational prop, or as part of a board game to help ICT students learn about ethics.
Overall the goal of this project is not simply to design a game to help teach ethics, but rather to explore how effective design science methodologies are in helping in the design of such a game.
CHECK YOUR TECH – CONSIDERING THE PROVENANCE OF DATA USED TO BUILD DIGITAL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Damian Gordon (TU Dublin) presented the second Ethics4EU peer-reviewed paper at IFIP WG 9.4 European Conference on the Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries 2020.
Digital products and services are producing unprecedented amounts of data worldwide. These products and services have broad reach and include many users and consumers in the developing world. Once data is collected it is often used to create large and valuable datasets. A lack of data protection regulation in the developing world has led to concerns about digital colonization and a lack of control of their data on the part of citizens in the developing world.
The authors of this paper are developing a new digital ethics curriculum for the instruction of computer science students. In this paper we present two case studies we have developed with a focus on data ethics in a developing world context. Each case study is accompanied by a list of specific questions to be used by the instructor to allow students to evaluate the implications of introducing new digital products and services in a developing world context as well as a generic case studies checksheet that allow deeper reflection on the intended and unintended consequences of introducing new technologies.
The case studies have been developed specifically as teaching tools; each is based on a synthesis of several real cases, and are designed to generate detailed and diverse discussions by student groups about the ethics of these scenarios. The use of synthesized case studies has a long history in the teaching of Law courses, sometimes to circumvent issues like confidentiality and legal privilege, which are clearly very important considerations when discussing Data Ethics scenarios. To highlight the fictitious nature of the case studies, fictional placenames and company names are very often used to underscore the fact that these case studies are fictional.
The full paper “CHECK YOUR TECH – CONSIDERING THE PROVENANCE OF DATA USED TO BUILD DIGITAL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES” by D. O’Sullivan, D. Gordon will be published in the IFIP AICT series by SpringerNature.
Institut Mines-Telecom coordinated the development of our learning material and evaluated the requirements of the platform we’re going to develop. Our learning material repository will help teachers to deploy ethics module in CS Faculties all around Europe!
Unfortunately, due to the spread of COVID 19, our event planned for Thursday 7th of May at Institute of Informatics, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland has been postponed.
The main goals of the event were to disseminate and create awareness in the region and country about the core issues addressed by the project, as well as to foster a networking o people working or interested in these issues. The event would have included a number of speakers and a discussion panel including experts in Ethics, academics, and professionals working in areas, roles or projects where ethical or legal aspects are central or highly relevant. In particular, the event would have focused on our research report of existing competencies in the teaching of ethics in computer science and research report on European Values for Ethics in Technology, and also include a discussion on the community of practice of for teaching ethics in computer science that we aim to develop during the Project’s lifetime.
Though, as everybody in the world, the Partner Institutions and Team Members are being affected by the current situation, we’re still working hard on the Project! We just changed our way to communicate!
The spread of COVID19 can actually raise some interesting issues about Ethics and Technology that may lead to some Case Studies! It is especially in these hard times that must ask ourselves what can technology do for our society without harming anybody’s health, privacy and lifestyle.
INCORPORATING DIGITAL ETHICS THROUGHOUT THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
Michael Collins (TU Dublin) presented the first Ethics4EU peer-reviewed paper at INTED 2020.
The media is reporting scandals associated with computer companies with increasing regularity; whether it is the misuse of user data, breach of privacy concerns, the use of biased artificial intelligence, or the problems of automated vehicles. Because of these complex issues, there is a growing need to equip computer science students with a deep appreciation of ethics, and to ensure that in the future they will develop computer systems that are ethically-based. One particularly useful strand of their education to incorporate ethics into is when teaching them about the formal approaches to developing computer systems.
There are a number of specific processes and methodologies that incorporate these stages in different ways into their approaches. Some take a linear approach to these stages, whereas others take a more iterative and/or incremental approach. These models include the Waterfall Model, the V-Model, the Spiral Model, and the Agile family of models. For each of these models this paper will present a way to include ethics in the Specifying stage, and well as threaded throughout the model, and as an explicit stage in a final review process at the end of the implementation stage.
These formal models are understood (and used) by computer companies all over the world, and therefore are a natural means of incorporating ethics into software development in a manner that would not seem overly arduous or unwieldy to developers. These techniques are also taught in the computer science departments of universities all over the world, it is therefore vitally important that lecturers incorporate an ethical dimension into their systems development teaching, and we believe that these newly refined models provide them with a simple means of achieving this task, and this will make a new generation of software developers ethically-aware.
The full paper “INCORPORATING DIGITAL ETHICS THROUGHOUT THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS” by D. Gordon, M. Collins, A. Becevel and W. O’Mahony will be published in the INTED 2020 Proceedings within 2020 and it will be available for reading on IATED (https://library.iated.org/view/GORDON2020INC).
On the 21st of November TU Dublin welcomed the Ethics4EU partners and stakeholders to the launch event for the project.
After the welcoming from Prof Michael Devereux (TU Dublin), Dympna O’Sullivan (TU Dublin) gave an overview of the project to the attendees clarifying the objectives and introducing the expected outcomes of Ethics4EU.
Afterwards, the stakeholders were engaged in aRound Table Activity in which they were asked to identify Digital Ethics issues relevant to their own industry. Facilitators lead discussions on 3 questions:
What ethical concerns exist in their digital projects and enterprises?
What ethical questions do developers need to ask themselves when developing software technology?
What types of skills are needed by graduates in relation to digital ethics?
In the end a panel responded to round table activities and questions from stakeholders.
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