Thursday, November 7, 2019

Researcher discusses social implications and responsibilities of computing

Q: What are the main objectives of this working group?

A: The goals of the working group are to think about how we can weave social
and ethical considerations into the fabric of what the college is doing. That includes our educational mission, our research mission, and how we engage externally. The pull for this right now is enormous. We need to deal with these issues, which are very complex. No single person here at MIT has a full handle on the needs of society. A key challenge is to think about how we close that cross-disciplinary gap, to talk with and engage people in different disciplines.
The members of the working group organized ourselves into two subgroups. One focused on undergraduate and graduate education and curriculum. The other was thinking about research and broader external engagement. We did benchmarking of other centers, departments, and units, and examined how they achieved facets of what we would want to achieve here at MIT.
On both the curricular and research sides, the working group coalesced around the vision of being able to make it a habit of mind and a habit of action, for people to be able to analyze both ethical challenges and societal challenges, and then train our students, as well as us, as researchers, to be equally facile at engineering both technical solutions and policy solutions. In the College of Computing, we need to be the catalyst for bringing together the numerous disciplines that have input into these issues. We have great potential to create collaboration.