How moral is your machine? Ethics in computing education

By Carrie Anne Philbin. Posted

This week, after watching too many science fiction films, Carrie Anne and James ask, "How moral is your machine?". We explored if computers are simply tools now that they are increasingly capable of making recommendations and taking decisions for us. What are the consequences if developers do not take the time to consider ethics and morality in their programming? And how, as educators, we can usefully bring this conversation into the classroom to engage and inspire our learners?

Guests

Luckily we were joined by a couple of educators who think about ethics in computing, and how to explore the topic with students, to save us from our conundrum:

  • Computing teacher Diane Dowling is currently working on Isaac Computer Science and wrote an article on ethics in computer science in issue 13 of Hello World magazine
  • Marc Scott is a teacher passionate about open education resources and ethics in computing
Carrie Anne Philbin
Carrie Anne Philbin MBE is a computing educator, YouTuber, author, and host of Hello World podcast.
James Robinson
James Robinson is a computing educator, trainer, and host of Hello World podcast.
Diane Dowling
Diane Dowling is a former teacher who works on Isaac Computer Science for the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
Marc Scott
Marc Scott is a former computer science and electronics teacher who currently writes and manages informal educational resources for the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Together we investigated the difference between morals and ethics, and discussed examples of ethical dilemmas machines might have to solve.

To finish off the show, we reached out to our vast community of computing and digital making educators on Twitter to ask what their students think about ethics in computing and how they approach the subject.

For more practical advice from educators on computing and digital making, check out and subscribe to Hello World magazine. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a five-star review wherever you get your podcasts.

We’ll be back in two weeks with a new podcast episode to ask the question “How do we give learners context and creativity in computing?”. Until then, you can get in touch with a question or comment about the discussion in this episode at podcast@helloworld.cc or @helloworld_edu on Twitter.


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