I'm teaching a class on technology ethics from a future perspective next week and want students to discuss real-life cases of tech and ethical questions in small groups. Does anyone have good suggestions for cases, especially beyond obvious ones like Cambridge Analytica?
@mmin China's new Social Credit System would poise a good one, especially in it's... mixed / unclear usages, and how they may reflect / reinforce bias which trap people from social advancement.
Some amount of scholarship on it, but Planet Money has a good lay approach on it https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/10/26/661163105/episode-871-blacklisted-in-china
Thanks! That's a really good one. One of the student groups is already doing a bigger group work on it though, so maybe it would be overlapping. The article looks interesting!
Deplatforming on privately run social networks as well as "shadow banning." I'm sure you can find several examples across the political spectrum.
Blacklisting of cryptocurrency coins just because it was previously used (typically several transactions/owners ago) in some allegedly questionable transaction.
@mmin @alcinnz maybe the connected gadgets used in investigations/court things? https://www.cnn.com/2017/03/07/tech/amazon-echo-alexa-bentonville-arkansas-murder-case/index.html or those gadgets calling help “on their own” https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/man-beat-girlfriend-murder-threat-alexa-gadget-call-police-google-home-bernalillo-county-sheriff-new-a7835366.html
Here is a site listing companies that have gotten their data stolen. If you look into some interesting cases there, you might find material for your class :)
@mmin incident with Google+, because of which data was exposed which wasn't meant to be
Thanks! Looks interesting and is probably worth a mention.
@mmin I only really know the obvious ones but it would be really interesting to hear what the students make of the case when FB did it's secret psychological experiment on whether the mood of users could be affected by the types of posts they saw in their timelines (eg would showing users negative posts from others affect the 'mood' of the user's post and vice versa).
Thanks! That's a good case. We actually discussed that on the same course two years ago. The only issue is that it leads to a bit black and white discussion, just condemning FB rather than discussing a complex dilemma.
This year I decided to go with a generic list of questionable uses of AI, and children and information technology as the other theme. I'll try to remember to toot back how it goes 😊
@mmin Ahhh that's fair. It was clearly unethical, but the grey area comes from the cleanliness of the results. Without people knowing that they're being studied, you don't introduce any biases into subject behaviour and I guess the question would be if that lack of ethics is worth getting 'real' results, or maybe if it would have it been okay if FB used that data to improve the impact of its product on its users...but it makes sense to steer over to questionable uses of AI
Here's are the slides for that class this year: https://my.owndrive.com/index.php/s/UrKeO4V0ggPQA2t
It's a very general intro to tech ethics from a future-oriented perspective. A lot of it is centred on how sociotechnical change relates to human agency. I discuss MIT's Moral Machine a bit and mention some technologies in passing, but it's not so much about specific technologies.
@mmin How about this coffee shop that won’t sell coffee to students for money, only for their data? https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/09/29/643386327/no-cash-needed-at-this-cafe-students-pay-the-tab-with-their-personal-data
Yeah, I already had this lecture but the coffee shop case is really interesting. I actually mentioned it to students just yesterday at another session.
@mmin I find it very interesting too. Because it’s potentially just on the cusp of too problematic, but not everyone will worry too much about it.
@mmin Oh, just realized this post is a week old (just got it boosted from someone else). So probably my suggestion is too late! But it’s not so much a black-and-white case I think.
@mmin Have you considered different forms of filter bubbles (a broad term for a variety of search engine indexing algorithms and social media content curation algs) and the organization of political publics and whether or not they should be regulated as a possible case study?
@mmin Another one that comes to mind is "free speech" and computational propaganda. Or, to be more nuanced, potential ethical dilemmas raised by the concept of online strategic elevation of different voices and the roles that political institutions, or the tech industry should have in monitoring this process?
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