Final Ethics Project

We've been slowly working through some ethical issues throughout the course, and now it's time for you to do a deep dive into an ethics topic on your own. In this project, you will write a position paper on a topic of your choosing. Anything from the suggested topics or from class topics (in more detail than we've done in class) is fair game, but you can also certainly pursue something else that's not listed, as long as you clear it with me first. Your work will culminate in a paper that's roughly 2000 to 3000 words (~4 pages single spaced), satisfying the following parameters.

  • Present the problem clearly to a general audience, and explain both how AI and ethics factor into the issues at play.
  • Present both the risks and possible mitigation strategies for these risks.
  • You should include roughly 10 cited references from reputable sources (NOTE: In the examples below, I've provided links to some more popular magazines to whet your appetite, but I went to see some serious academic references as well). You may want to look at the references in Race After Technology or on Google Scholar, for instance. If you find something is behind a paywall, check Ursinus's interlibrary loan.
  • At least two of your references should show contrasting viewpoints.
  • At least one reference must be a technical academic paper, in the style of the sorts of things we've talked about in this class. Note that it's totally fine if you want to debunk this paper or point out its dangers! (e.g. the Kosinski 2018 paper on using convolutional neural networks to detect sexual orientation)
  • Take a stance! What are your thoughts, and how would you back them up with your references?

You may partner up with one other person, though you are not required to do so.

The final paper will be due on Friday 12/15, and feedback to other students will be due by Sunday 12/17.


Below is a grading breakdown for the paper, which will make up 15% of your overall class grade

Category Percentage of Grade
Quality of References, according to specs above 40%
Thesis statement, overall clarity, and formatting (I don't care much about the format of references, but the paper should follow in a logical manner from intro, to thesis, to body, to conclusion) 20%
Quality of argument, with regards to ethical issues 20%
Correct and precise description of the AI systems at play at an appropriate level of technical detail for a general audience, but demonstrating insider knowledge learned from this course (examples could include demonstrating sufficient knowledge of supervised vs unsupervised vs reinforcement learning, or demonstrating a working knowledge of deep learning in the context of your application) 20%

Peer Feedback

To increase a breadth of knowledge and to keep the dialogue going, each student will provide reflections and constructive feedback on three other student papers from the class. If everyone in this class does an individual paper, this will also guarantee that it gets read by at least 3 people other than me. If everyone pairs into a group, then it will get ready by 6 people other than me. Feedback will be graded for completion, so long as it is thoughtful and constructive.

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