Jun 24, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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PHL 3102 - Ethics of Digital Technologies and Artificial Intelligence

3 lecture hours 0 lab hours 3 credits
Course Description
This course introduces students to some of the central ethical issues in existing and emerging digital technologies, with an emphasis on the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI). Students will explore topics in digital and AI ethics as they arise in the context of relevant professional areas-such as information science, computer science, software engineering, user experience and design, among others-as well as topics concerning the broader social implications of digital technologies and the ethical challenges they raise. The goal of the course is to critically engage with these topics and cases interactively, studying both their theoretical context and practical implications, so that students can pursue continued, independent reflection on key issues in digital and AI ethics and apply the guiding ethical principles that emerge to their own professional and personal lives. This course meets the following Raider Core CLO requirement: Demonstrate Ethical Understanding. (prereq: none)
Course Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of existing ethical issues in digital technologies and AI
  • Anticipate ethical issues arising from emerging digital technologies and developments in AI
  • Identify the philosophical bases for ethical concerns surrounding digital technologies and AI
  • Exhibit familiarity with and understanding of established ethical frameworks, concepts, and principles within ethical theory
  • Connect those theoretical frameworks, concepts, and principles to applied issues
  • Use those theoretical resources to help understand and resolve the applied issues while at the same time scrutinizing the theoretical principles by evaluating their real-world implications
  • Evaluate competing considerations about engineers’ and designers’ moral responsibility for the products they create and services they provide
  • Engage in independent ethical reasoning on novel problems using theoretical and practical ethical resources learned
  • Foster ethical behavior and integrity in one’s professional and personal life using the theoretical and practical resources learned

Prerequisites by Topic
  • None

Course Topics
  • Ethical frameworks, concepts, and principles (consequentialism, deontology, rights, etc.)
  • Ethics of information, part I: privacy and transparency
  • Ethics of information, part II: intellectual property, individual liberties, and human rights
  • Algorithmic bias and social justice
  • The “black box” explainability problem in deep learning AI
  • Ethics of human-AI interaction and impact on social relationships
  • Digital technologies and human well-being: digital media and mental health
  • Digital technologies and democracy: digital media, misinformation, and political polarization
  • AI and human work: automation and the meaning of work
  • Ethics of design and user experience
  • Ethics of digital advertising and “surveillance capitalism”
  • Ethics of biometric identification
  • Artificial moral agency, theory and application (driverless cars, autonomous weapons systems)

Dr. Andrew McAninch

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