Projects  |    |  May 18, 2021

Computing Ethics Narratives (CEN)

Project at the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Led by Stacy Doore, Colby College.

The goal is based on a pedagogical approach developed for providing computing ethics instruction through an interdisciplinary lens. The proposed project is grounded in the construction of narratives as “ethical laboratories” that allow students to experiment with the ethical implications of a given plot (Ricoeur, 1992). We believe this approach will help computer science students to develop critical thinking skills and the ‘ethical sensibility’ needed to evaluate, as an individual and as a member of a technical team, the potential ethical impact of technology before, during, and after the technology development and testing processes. Framing ethics instruction around narratives allows for the integration of a variety of input into the ‘tech ethics lab’ such as fictional narratives (e.g., scifiand literature), personal narratives (e.g., interviews), and organizational narratives (e.g., case studies) that demonstrate how the creators of technologies have a profound impact on our present and future society. 

Stage 1 and Stage 2 work (April 2019-Dec 2021)

The project has created a CEN repository with over 1000 narratives related to computing/AI ethics and 12 modules piloted over the last 2 years. Colby students  (Kyle Slager ‘20, Will Short ’22, Ruby Nunez ’24, and this summer Azalea Yunus ‘22 and Kuukua Damptey ‘23) have been working with Stacy Doore to collect, annotate, and classify narratives as well as create CEN modules to be used in core CS courses on a variety of topics.

This project is a collaboration between researchers at Bowdoin College (Fernando Nascimento-Digital and Computational Studies, Allison Cooper-Cinema Studies) and Colby College (Stacy Doore – Computer Science). It has been supported through the Responsible Computing Challenge , a partnership between the Mozilla Foundation, Omidyar Network, Schmidt Futures, and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. Stage 2 work (June-Dec 2021) involves:

  • Hiring a web design firm (Rainwater, Inc,) to build the project website and backend database (estimated launch – Sept 2021)
  • Colby and Bowdoin summer students continuing to refine the metadata for the narratives, and diversify the body of repository narratives.
  • Disseminating of CEN materials to CS faculty for adoption and inclusion
  • Holding a CS faculty training workshop (Colby, Bowdoin, Bates, UMaine)

Although the full scope of the website work will not be launched online publicly until Sept 2021, there is a CEN Pilot Teaching Module website  and prototype CEN project repository website.

Proposal for Working Group:

Although the materials for the CEN project and the Responsible Computing Challenge are specifically focused on developing materials for CS faculty adoption/adaptation in their core technical courses, we have recognized there may be other faculty interested in adopting/adapting the CEN materials in their technical courses. The Davis Institute for AI presents a unique opportunity for Colby faculty to come together as an interdisciplinary group to discuss and develop modules and future courses that might be offered to fulfill the mission and vision of the Davis Institute for AI. Faculty in the group would commit to:

  • Learning about the CEN repository and pedagogical approach for module development
  • Identifying common interests and learning objectives for possible modules and courses within and between disciplines focused on AI research, ethics, and applications
  • Learning about existing tools and research communities in the AI ethics space
  • Developing 1 CEN module to be offered in a technical course using current narratives, method (frameworks, algorithmic audits, design toolkits, models, etc.) to be piloted in a course they regularly teach (21-22 or 22-23)
  • Creating a tentative plan for the development of a complimentary interdisciplinary course sequence (22-23)

Interested Faculty should contact Stacy Doore or Kara Kungelmeyer