Algorithms are an essential part of Computer Science where a generalized and repeatable set of steps are created to accomplish a task. It allows for humans ideas to be implemented via computers and machines. But it can also lead to ethical issues worth pondering. Here is a guide to help you and your student dig into the topic.
This is part of a series of documents meant support a discussion and investigation of ethics and morals in relation to the impact of computer science on the world at-large. You can find the rest of series here:
Introduction: In this document we will engage with the CS concept of Algorithms which
Algorithms are a generalized and repeatable sequence of instructions that achieve a particular purpose and output, given a set of inputs. It’s important to understand when, why and how to implement an algorithm, and to consider who or what might be affected. (CSforAll NYC Blueprint).
- What are developers accountable for in an algorithm?
- How do developers protect user data while still building a useful algorithm?
- How can we build algorithms that resist amplifying biases that exist in real-life?
- Create agency and transparency for users by articulating how an algorithm works and ask for feedback.
- Software can be used in unintended way and in different contexts than what developer expects.
- Thoughtful design and empathy can help developers think about impact of code.
- Place the impact instead of the tools at center of the process and study the outcome.
- Discussion of ethics and impact are missing from coding education.
- Algorithms are not magic and are created by a set of choices made by people.
- Skepticism about algorithms is healthy; fear is not.
- How Big Data is Unfair by Moritz Hardt
- Automated Experiments on Ad Privacy Settings by Amit Datta, Michael Carl Tschantz, and Anupam Datta
- Machine Bias: Investigating Algorithmic Injustice from ProPublica
- Dear Elon–Forget Killer Robots. Here’s What You Should Really Worry About by Caroline Sinders
- Sleepwalking into Surveillance Capitalism, Sliding into Authoritarianism by Zeynep Tufekci