News  |  ,   |  March 6, 2020

Teaching a code of ethics to tech workers before they write computer code

News Article and CBC Radio Interview. Abby Jaques, a former MIT philosophy instructor and the current interdisciplinary ethics fellow at the Stanford University Center for Ethics in Society, spoke with The Sunday Edition’s guest host Peter Armstrong about why she developed the two courses entitled “The Ethics of Technology” and “Workshop in Ethical Engineering.” This article contains a link to the recording and highlights from the interview.

Some people wonder why we need to talk about the ethics of technology and why it should be taught as a separate thing from just regular ethics and philosophy. Then sometimes, when people think technology is going wrong, they’ll think it must be a bad person making that technology. That’s where you see memes about whether Mark Zuckerberg is a lizard person or not, and things like that. But in fact, what we find when we really look deeply, is that it’s very rare that you have a moustache-twirling villain involved when things go wrong. It’s often the case that good people make things that end up having very bad effects without realizing it. So the project of all of my teaching is really about helping people to identify and recognize the kinds of moral, political and social dimensions of the technology that we build, and then equipping them to address them. [ . . . ]