30 Mar 2023 14:00 - 18:00 Online & Room SG1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge



This workshop is convened by Giving Voice to Digital Democracies, a research project which is part of the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge, and organised by Marcus Tomalin (Cambridge) and Stefanie Ullmann (Cambridge). The workshop is funded by the Humanities and Social Change International Foundation.


Although the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been discussed extensively since at least the 1950s, the way in which future computer scientists, information engineers, and software developers are taught about this crucial topic at university differs vastly. In many countries it is still possible to study subjects such as machine learning or natural language processing to the highest level, without ever having to consider the ethical implications of autonomous intelligent systems, their underlying algorithms, and/or the data they are trained on. This provides a striking contrast to, say, Medical Sciences, which cannot usually be studied to degree level anywhere in the world without at least one compulsory ethics module having been taken.

While many higher-education institutions around the world have recently attempted to integrate the teaching of AI ethics more fully into their (computer) science courses, there is a general lack of consultation and collaboration about the form and content of these courses. As a result, they have markedly different principles, practices and priorities.

This discussion-based workshop will provide an opportunity for those who teach AI Ethics to students of science subjects at university to share ideas about what they teach and how they teach it, and may lead to a useful identification of common ground that connects differing ideologies and methodologies.  The discussions will consider fundamental questions that at present have no widely-agreed answers, such as:

  • which topics should be covered in such courses?
  • which specific pedagogical strategies are most effective, and in which specific teaching contexts?
  • how can ethical considerations be integrated practically into very technical subjects, such as modifying system architectures, developing particular neural models, and annotating and/or pre-processing training data?
  • academics from which disciplines are best placed to deliver that teaching?’
  • and, crucially, how should the ethical literacy of the students taking such courses be formally assessed?

The workshop will be an important platform for teachers and experts from a variety of academic fields to exchange experiences and ideas, which, we hope, will lead the way for an improved and more (trans) nationally aligned approach to teaching ethics. It is envisaged that this will be the first in a series of such discussions.

Please contact Una Yeung with any queries.

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14:00 - 15:45

Welcome and introduction

Session 1: Current practice: how is AI ethics currently taught?

Speakers: Zoë Fritz, Yi Zeng, Dympna O’Sullivan, David Liu, Laeticia Onyejegbu

15:45 - 16:30


16:30 – 18:00

Session 2: Imagining the future: how should AI ethics be taught?

Speakers: Diana Adela Martin, Jeff Behrends, Filippo Santoni de Sio, Linda Uchenna Oghenekaro 

Summary and farewell



Jeff Behrends (Harvard University)

Zoë Fritz (University of Cambridge)

David Liu (University of Toronto)

Diana Adela Martin (Eindhoven University of Technology)

Linda Uchenna Oghenekaro (University of Port Harcourt)

Laeticia Onyejegbu (Port Harcourt University)

Dympna O’Sullivan (Technological University Dublin)

Filippo Santoni de Sio (Delft University of Technology)

Yi Zeng (Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences)


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