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Subject: [Hangout - NYLXS] Engineering and Ethics - IEEE catches up with Dr
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Why Schools Are Getting More Serious About Teaching Engineering Students
Harvard, MIT, and Stanford say it=E2=80=99s more important than ever to
recognize the ramifications of AI technology
By KATHY PRETZ 5 September 2018
Until recently, it didn=E2=80=99t seem ethics was all that relevant to
engineers. Sure, many students are required to take ethics courses as
part of their computer science and engineering programs. But some
high-tech leaders have displayed the attitude of build it first and then
figure out the consequences later.
The impact that autonomous and intelligent systems might have on society
is becoming more concerning to engineering schools and other observers,
however. Take, for example, the growing opposition to Rekognition,
Amazon=E2=80=99s face-surveillance technology. The American Civil Liberties
Union recently found that the system=E2=80=99s algorithm made a number of f=
identifications, especially for people of color. Sold to law enforcement
agencies, Rekognition can identify, track, and analyze people in real
time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image. It can quickly
compare information it collects against databases featuring tens of
millions of faces. The ACLU says the software might be used to track
people going about their daily lives or might misidentify innocent
people as suspects in a crime.
Google experienced backlash when people discovered the company was
working with the U.S. Department of Defense on Project Maven, an AI
program to analyze drone footage. The contract with the Pentagon called
for the company to develop machine learning algorithms. Some Google
employees were outraged that the company would offer resources to the
military for such surveillance technology, according to Gizmodo, while
others argued that the project raised important ethical questions about
the development and use of machine learning. Google since has decided it
will not renew the contract.
Cornell, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the University of Texas recently
introduced courses that put more emphasis on ethics when designing
autonomous and intelligent systems, according to a New York Times
article about their new offerings.
Students who take Cornell=E2=80=99s ethics and policy in data science cours=
learn how to deal with challenges such as biased data sets.
Harvard=E2=80=99s Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab joined forces =
offer an ethics and governance of AI course, which focuses on the
technology=E2=80=99s ethical, legal, and policy implications.
=E2=80=9CBecause such tools could ultimately alter human society, universit=
are rushing to help students understand the potential consequences,=E2=80=
Ito told The New York Times. He=E2=80=99s the director of the media lab.
Stanford=E2=80=99s computer science department plans to offer a new course =
ethics, public policy, and computer science, according to the article.
=E2=80=9CIt=E2=80=99s about finding or identifying issues that we know in t=
he next two,
three, five, 10 years the students who graduate from here are going to
have to grapple with,=E2=80=9D Mehran Sahami, a computer science professor =
Stanford, told the Times. Sahami was the co-chair of the ACM/IEEE
Computer Society joint task force on computer science curricula for
2013. The group created guidelines for college programs at an
=E2=80=9CTechnology is not neutral,=E2=80=9D Sahami said. =E2=80=9CThe choi=
ces that get made in
building technology have social ramifications.=E2=80=9D
According to IEEE, universities need to put more emphasis on teaching
the next generation of engineers about ethics. To that end, the IEEE
TechEthics program held a panel discussion during its conference in
October. TechEthics=E2=80=99 goal is to showcase IEEE=E2=80=99s role as a t=
when it comes to the ethical and societal implications of technology
and, in the process, establish the organization as a trusted resource.
One of the panelists was Deborah G. Johnson, a retired professor of
applied ethics at the University of Virginia=E2=80=99s School of Engineerin=
Applied Science, in Charlottesville.
The way engineering ethics classes used to be taught was too narrow:
focused on complying with codes of ethics, Johnson said, adding,
=E2=80=9CTechnology shapes and is shaped by society. They=E2=80=99re inextr=
=E2=80=9CWe have to keep stressing that engineering is a social activity,=
said. =E2=80=9CIt=E2=80=99s part of engineering to anticipate=E2=80=94to no=
t put blinders on but
to act on this idea that what [engineers are] doing has social effects.=E2=
In this panel discussion held during the IEEE Tech Ethics conference in
October, Deborah G. Johnson discusses the need for budding engineers to
consider the social effects of technology.
IEEE offers several online courses for students or anyone who wants to
learn more about AI and ethics.
The organization is also working to help educate, train, and empower
those already involved in developing technologies to make ethical
considerations a priority through its Global Initiative on Ethics of
Autonomous and Intelligent Systems.
The initiative brought together more than 200 experts to collaborate on
the =E2=80=9CEthically Aligned Design=E2=80=9D report. Released last year, =
strives to address how to design such systems with moral values and
ethical principles in mind so they can behave in a way that is
beneficial and that builds trust. That includes respecting individuals=E2=
privacy and being accountable for decisions. The latest version is
=E2=80=9CEthically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-bei=
With Autonomous and Intelligent Systems.=E2=80=9D
IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for
those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already
a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network
of more than 400,000 students and professionals.
So many immigrant groups have swept through our town
that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological
proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998
DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002
http://www.nylxs.com - Leadership Development in Free Software
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but incompatible with living as a free human being. -RI Safir 2013
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