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AIC Seminar Series

Rambling on Ethics in Computer Science

Lenore ZuckDept. of Computer Science at University of Illinois at Chicago[Home Page]

Notice:  Hosted by Richard Waldinger.

Date:  Monday, July 9th 2012 at 2:00pm

Location:  EJ228 (SRI E building)  (Directions)


ABET accreditation for Computer Science degrees requires a course in computer ethics, to the horror of numerous students who view the field as a technology-only discipline. In the past few years I’ve taught several ethics classes, each covering different topics---from Heidegger on standing reserves to RIAA on music sharing.

Although my professional publications are in formal methods, my interest in computer ethics was piqued while working at NSF where I became involved with the problems surrounding the social aspects of computing for data sharing and transfer. I had to decide about companies sharing malware data with scientists and the risks to privacy in medical informatics projects. This led to much musing on what are the ethical principles that should guide computer scientists, how can data be collected and shared ethically, and what mechanism should we, as computer scientists, be developing to enable and facilitate the ethical management of data in a cyberspace of growing insecurity.

In this talk I’ll give some of the "philosophical” reasons arguing for incorporating ethical thinking when developing technology in general (e.g., drones), and in computer science in particular, critique the existing codes of ethics (e.g., ACM, IEEE, ICCP) and suggest some challenges that should be overcome to reach the idealistic goal of ethical data sharing.

Disclaimer I have background in neither philosophy nor ethics. Just like many of my students (albeit with fewer complaints!), I had to wrestle with the dilemmas in practice and in the abstract, drawing upon the wisdom of philosophers, colleagues, experts, and more along the way.

   Bio for Lenore Zuck

Lenore Zuck teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She returned there after having spent several years as a program director at the National Science Foundation, where she was a member of the Trustworthy Computing program, the Software and Hardware Foundation program, and the Cyber Physical Systems program. Her background is in formal methods. Her recent work includes methodologies for automatic verification of infinite-state systems, translation validation of optimizing compilers and microcode, and applications of formal methods to security. Lenore has moved to UIC from NYU. Before that, she was on the Computer Science faculty at Yale University. Lenore holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Weizmann Institute of Science.

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