Stephen C. Rea and Qin Zhu and Dean Nieusma and Kylee Shiekh and Tom Williams
IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society
—This paper considers the cultivation of ethical identities among future engineers and computer scientists, particularly those whose professional practice will extensively intersect with emerging technologies enabled by artificial intelligence (AI). Many current engineering and computer science students will go on to participate in the development and refinement of AI, machine learning, robotics, and related technologies, thereby helping to shape the future directions of these applications. Researchers have demonstrated the actual and potential deleterious effects that these technologies can have on individuals and communities. Together, these trends present a timely opportunity to steer AI and robotic design in directions that confront, or at least do not extend, patterns of discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion. Examining ethics interventions in AI and robotics education may yield insights into challenges and opportunities for cultivating ethical engineers. We present our ongoing research on engineering ethics education, examine how our work is situated with respect to current AI and robotics applications, and discuss a curricular module in “Robot Ethics” that was designed to achieve interdisciplinary learning objectives. Finally, we offer recommendations for more effective engineering ethics education, with a specific focus on emerging technologies.