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[liberationtech] [cpsr-activists] CPSR Curriculum?

Richard Brooks rrb at
Sun Feb 3 07:52:15 PST 2019

On 2/3/19 1:26 AM, Paul wrote:
> Is there any evidence, or even anecdotes, suggesting that ethics courses
> (in any form) work to make people act more ethically?  

Main issue that I would see is how you measure ethics. Psychology
studies seem to lack reproducibility.

>      I can see that someone who was already ethical might find something
> they had missed, but it's hard for me (admittedly a cynical person) to
> imagine that an ethics course can make someone ethical, any more than
> one could expect an "empathy" course to make people empathetic.
>   Paul

In courses I taught that touch on ethics, I feel that it has
made some impact. I notice that the position of students coming
in tends to be:

"We won't do anything unethical, because we are good people."

Which is not what you want. I think I get them to at least think
of the possible, including unintended, consequences of their
actions. That may be the best you can do.

A good text is: "The Case of the Killer Robot" it has lots of
cases it presents with no clear answers and possible legal
liability. Probably for a large segment of the population
ethical activity is mainly trying to avoid litigation.

Am concerned about autonomous systems ethics having devolved into
a repeat of the trolley problems. In discussion with automotive
companies, they tell me their answer: "Autonomous vehicle needs
to save the life of the owner. Otherwise no one will buy the cars."

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