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Do you Like Ethics?

Should everyone take ethics classes? The data course highlights the problem of the need for more training in various educational sectors, particularly mathematics and computer sciences. A cursory glance at a few pure math programs reveals that algebra and calculus are paired during the first year, while upper-year classes teach differential geometry, and analytical number theory, any Humanities, particularly philosophy courses are entirely absent from the mandatory curriculum ( see examples of math programs for Harvard, Waterloo, and Oxford ).

If these programs are any indication, the likelihood is that most math graduates will lack humanistic skills but even more dangerous, they will not be trained to think critically about the work they might decide to do.

As I rewatched the social dilemma, I could not help to keep thinking that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The inventors of some of the most toxic aspects of social media, including the misleading and addicting "like button," thought they would be helping to spread joy. Now it seems naive with a touch of blonde to have imagined such things.

If those people had studied a mandatory ethics class in college, they might have been more likely to try to understand the implications of their ideas. With our new understanding of the unintended consequences of our decisions, we should support O'Neil's idea of a Hippocratic oath for mathematicians and coders (and others who work with computational modelling).

If it is the case that when intelligent humans are involved, these are the results, I have very little hope for the future of AI. In the end, AI appears to work better within the framework of a limited set of rules where the data is well-structured and highly curated (chess, for example). The same machine learning algorithms set free online, in what is morphing into a place of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and paranoia, might do much worse than becoming Nazis in less than 24 hours: they might become SkyNet.

Now you see why that ethics class mattered.

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