I recently gave a prepared talk to introductory programming students reflecting on the nature of computer science’s social and political responsibility.
Techlash: The Social Dilemma is an important documentary on techlash, though deeply problematic in how it references tech insiders rather than the important work done by leading researchers on algorithmic justice: Dr. Timnit Gebru, Joy Buolamwini, Dr. Rediet Abebe, Deb Raji, Mutale Nkonde, Dr. Ruha Benjamin, Dr. Simone Browne, and Dr. Safiya Noble.
History, Stanford CS Department Timeline, The Art of Computer Programming, and US higher education.
- What does it mean for the “the art of computer programming” to serve mathematics?
- Abstraction: In Budgeter, you’re tasked to build an algorithm that organizes people based on certain criteria, but fails to take into consideration formatting errors, emergencies, etc. What about a hiring algorithm that asks questions about grades?
I’ve Always Been Scared That Someday I’m Going to Sell Out (Vakil 2018).
- How has the lack of political identity in computing shaped students’ perceptions of the values of computing? Politics are inherent whenever we program with other users in mind.
- Social implications of computing (that technology impacts people) vs. political implications of computing (that different groups of people feel technology’s impacts in unequal ways). Justice rather than ethics.
It is time for more critical CS education and Roles for Computing in Social Change.
- Research that Develops Foundational Technologies: recent breakthrough on the traveling salesman problem, novel methods to store data in DNA, etc.
- Research Focused on Direct World Impact: AI/sensors for medicine, research on computing for the developing world, accessibility research, etc.
- Research on Potential Negative Consequences of Technology: understanding and fighting misinformation, trolling on social media, etc.
- CSE 143 Autumn 2020 and CSE 373 Winter 2021.
Tech workers have real labor power; their skills are in short supply and in some cases, the things they refuse to build will simply not get built.