A key front for ethical questions in artificial intelligence, and computer science more generally, is teaching students how to engage with the questions they will face in their professional careers based on the tools and technologies we teach them. In past work (and current teaching) we have advocated for the use of science fiction as an appropriate tool which enables AI researchers to engage students and the public on the current state and potential impacts of AI. We present teaching suggestions for E.M. Forster's 1909 story, "The Machine Stops," to teach topics in computer ethics. In particular, we use the story to examine ethical issues related to being constantly available for remote contact, physically isolated, and dependent on a machine --- all without mentioning computer games or other media to which students have strong emotional associations. We give a high-level view of common ethical theories and indicate how they inform the questions raised by the story and afford a structure for thinking about how to address them.
The cultural and political implications of modern AI research are not some far off concern, they are things that affect the world in the here and now. From advanced control systems with advanced visualizations and image processing techniques that drive the machines of the modern military to the slow creep of a mechanized workforce, ethical questions surround us. Part of dealing with these ethical questions is not just speculating on what could be but teaching our students how to engage with these ethical questions. We explore the use of science fiction as an appropriate tool to enable AI researchers to help engage students and the public on the current state and potential impacts of AI.
We argue that it is crucial to the future of AI that our students be trained in multiple complementary modes of ethical reasoning, so that they may make ethical design and implementation choices, ethical career decisions, and that their software will be programmed to take into account the complexities of acting ethically in the world.
The cyberspace and the development of new technologies, especially intelligent systems using artificial intelligence, present enormous challenges to computer professionals, data scientists, managers and policy makers. There is a need to address professional responsibility, ethical, legal, societal, and policy issues. This paper presents problems and issues relevant to computer professionals and decision makers and suggests a curriculum for a course on ethics, law and policy. Such a course will create awareness of the ethics issues involved in building and using software and artificial intelligence.
A computer science faculty member and a philosophy faculty member collaborated in the development of a one-week introduction to ethics which was integrated into a traditional AI course. The goals were to: (1) encourage students to think about the moral complexities involved in developing accident algorithms for autonomous vehicles, (2) identify what issues need to be addressed in order to develop a satisfactory solution to the moral issues surrounding these algorithms, and (3) and to offer students an example of how computer scientists and ethicists must work together to solve a complex technical and moral problems. The course module introduced Utilitarianism and engaged students in considering the classic "Trolley Problem," which has gained contemporary relevance with the emergence of autonomous vehicles. Students used this introduction to ethics in thinking through the implications of their final projects. Results from the module indicate that students gained some fluency with Utilitarianism, including a strong understanding of the Trolley Problem. This short paper argues for the need of providing students with instruction in ethics in AI course. Given the strong alignment between AI's decision-theoretic approaches and Utilitarianism, we highlight the difficulty of encouraging AI students to challenge these assumptions.