Computer Ethics: Reshaping Society Through Technology

For the 2020 Winter Quarter, Michael Nekrasov (CS, PhD) and I co-taught a five week course, titled Computer Ethics: Reshaping Society Through Technology, in collaboration with the School for Scientific Thought (SST).

Discussing the Digital Divide – What ethical issues arise when access to the internet disproportionately favors wealthy, urban areas in developed nations?

Computers make our lives easier, and, as a result, we include them in every aspect of our lives. We use them to communicate with our friends and families, to seek out entertainment, to find jobs, and for many other reasons. Because we involve computers in every aspect of our lives, we also share a great deal of information with the companies that build technology. What we share and how this highly tailored personal information is used is a topic of continuous concern and debate.

In this class we explore what these algorithms “know” about us and how they gather data. This class provides an overview of active areas of computer science including: Big Data, Machine Learning, Networking, Security, and Human Computer Interaction. Over 5 classes, we look at how technology and society interact. The class provides the skills for understanding how the technologies work as well as philosophical skills for critically engaging with these technologies.

The H-SCHIP Digital Ethics Project

The UC Humanities Research Institute Awarded UCR the $10,000.00 Graduate Student Professionalization Workshop Grant in support of the Program for Humanities Careers in Science History, Policy, and Communication [H-SCHIP]. Recently, I was invited to participate as an H-SCHIP coordinator to assist in developing proposals for publicly engaged humanities projects.

My own project, the H-SCHIP Digital Ethics Project – developed in collaboration with Chelsea Oei Kern (UCLA), aims to create toolkits for ethical engagement with technology.

The State of the Discipline: New Data on Women Faculty in Philosophy

My co-authored paper: “The State of the Discipline: New Data on Women Faculty in Philosophy” has been accepted for publication at Ergo and is now forthcoming. This research is a part of the Demographics in Philosophy Project:

You can find out more information about our recent work on my website.

This figure depicts the percent of women philosophy faculty at PGR Top-20 Programs, PGR Ranked Programs, Non-PGR Programs, and All Programs in 2004, 2006, 2008, 20102011, and 2015.

Abstract: This paper presents data on the representation of women at 98 philosophy departments in the United States, which were ranked by the Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR) in 2015 as well as all of those schools on which data from 2004 exist. The paper makes four points in providing an overview of the state of the field. First, all programs reveal a statistically significant increase in the percent women tenured/tenure track faculty, since 2004. Second, out of the 98 U.S. philosophy departments selected for evaluation by Julie Van Camp in 2004, none in 2015 has 50% women philosophy faculty overall, while only one has 50% women who are tenured/tenure track. Third, as of 2015, there is a clear pyramidal shape to the discipline: Women are better represented as Assistant than Associate and Associate than Full professors. Fourth, women philosophy faculty, especially those who are tenured/tenure track, are better represented at Non-PGR ranked programs than at PGR ranked and PGR Top-20 programs.

Citation: Conklin, S., Artamonova, I., & Hassoun, N. “The State of the Discipline: New Data on Women Faculty in Philosophy.” Ergo (Forthcoming).

Permissible-Wrong Action at Cal Poly SLO

Through the generous support of the Cal Poly SLO Philosophy Department, I was recently invited to present my talk “The Possibility of Permissible-Wrong Doing” as a part of the Graduate Research Workshop Series.

In this paper, I defend both the possibility of Permissible-Wrong Actions [PWA] – actions that are morally permissible and nonetheless morally wrong – and the philosophical utility of recognizing this possibility. 

A draft of the paper is located on my Research page.

Photo courtesy of the Cal Poly SLO Philosophy Department

High School Ethics Bowl at UCSB

The UC Humanities Research Institute Awarded UCSB, in collaboration with UCSC, a $30,000 Engaging Humanities Grant for our project entitled “Ethics Bowl as a Platform for Educational Advancement.”

The first Santa Barbara Regional Invitational was held in May 2019 and received additional support from the UCSB Student Initiated Projects Grant, as well as the Marc Sanders Foundation MAP-NHSEB Scholarship Program. The proposal was co-authored by Jonathan Ellis, Director of the UCSC Center for Public Philosophy, and Tom Holden, former Department Chair at UCSB, along with myself for the purpose of initiating High School Ethics Bowl in the Santa Barbara area, as well as supporting UCSC’s ongoing efforts.

HSEB 2019

UCSB High School Ethics Bowl Program Coordinators (Sherri Lynn Conklin – foreground & Alex LeBrun – background) consulting with the team from Alta Vista Quetzal Alternative High School (at table) and their undergraduate mentor (Katie Stammkirk – at table background) during debate prep.