Should Ethics 101 Be Part of CS Degree Requirements?

“I’d require graduate level biologists to take an ethics course.” That was the surprising response we heard from a noted scientist in response to questions about the future of genetic modification and CRISPR. Her point was, it’s not about restricting access to the knowledge but rather giving practitioners more than just a cursory level understanding of the implications of choices you make in your work.

The point stuck with me and I’ve come around to wondering why more Computer Science and Engineering departments don’t teach Ethics as part of a core curriculum.

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As more of the world is driven by blackbox algorithms, AI decision machines and, well, software in general, I fear there will be a push towards regulation as a way of ensuring “fairness” in systems. While there may certainly be new laws and oversight required, I’d prefer a base level awareness in the authoring engineers themselves before we escalate to outsourcing oversight.

I’m not an engineer myself (history major in undergrad) but curious how those with technical degrees encountered these questions of ethics in their own studies.

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