The Ethical Crisis in Computing?
Computer scientists think often of “Ender’s Game” these days. In this award-winning 1985 science-fiction novel by Orson Scott Card, Ender is being trained at Battle School, an institution designed to make young children into military commanders against an unspecified enemy. Ender’s team engages in a series of computer-simulated battles,
eventually destroying the enemy’s planet, only to learn then that
the battles were very real and a real planet has been destroyed.
Many of us got involved in computing because programming was fun.
The benefits of computing seemed intuitive to us. We truly believe
that computing yields tremendous societal benefits; for example, the
life-saving potential of driverless cars is enormous! Like Ender,
however, we realized recently that computing is not a game–it is
real–and it brings with it not only societal benefits, but also
significant societal costs, such as labor polarization, disinformation,
and smart-phone addiction.
The common reaction to this crisis is to label it as an “ethical crisis”
and the proposed response is to add courses in ethics to the academic
computing curriculum. I will argue that the ethical lens is too narrow.
The real issue is how to deal with technology’s impact on society.
Technology is driving the future, but who is doing the steering?
☛ please register here
Karen Ostrum George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering
Director, Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology
Tue, Oct 2, 2018
04:00 PM - 06:00 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto