Students who took Experiential Ethics in the summer of 2020 overwhelmingly reported high satisfaction with the course, increased knowledge and ability to engage with ethics, and increased interest in ethics. Most students said they now envision themselves pursuing extracurricular or volunteer opportunities related to ethics, taking ethics classes, continuing to learn about ethics independently, and/or engaging in ethical discussions with friends and classmates. Here are a few of their comments:
Being in Experiential Ethics completely changed the way that I view ethics, transforming my relationship with the field of AI, my research, courses at MIT, and the interface between science, technology, and society.
Experiential Ethics is what motivated me to apply to be in a SERC (Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing) Action Group, an opportunity that became a highlight of the past semester. I’ve found a sense of purpose working to make MIT a more ethical place, and I hope to continue that work during my years at MIT (and beyond!).
Being in Experiential Ethics offered me the opportunity to explore my field of interest from a new perspective, allowing me to see the underlying ethical and safety issues. I realized these are as fundamental as the technical issues and decided to evaluate PhD programs in large part on the opportunities they would provide me to address the social issues that prevent further development in my field. I believe many students would benefit from taking this time to step back and consider a broader perspective on their field of interest.
The class expanded my definition of ethics to not just include personal definitions of right/wrong, but to also include broader ideas of institutional/systemic ethics. It made me more aware of the articles and books and social issues that usually fly under my radar.
No; because the class includes a final project due in September, it is listed as a Fall semester class. Therefore, it only impacts your tuition costs if you are not registered as a full-time student in the Fall. Similarly, the class will apply toward Fall credit limits, rather than Summer.
We welcome applications from students all over the world and with all different schedules. Accommodating everyone’s schedules so that no one is excluded is a top priority for the class. We will consider a wide variety of discussion group times and do our very best to make sure that every student is assigned to a discussion group that fits their schedule.
In 2020 and 2021, the course was held virtually. Summer/Fall 2022 is still TBD, but will likely include primarily virtual elements in the summer and in-person elements in the fall.
The class is set up for standard A-F grading. The grade will be computed based on attendance and participation (50%), short weekly assignments (20%), and a final project (30%).
The class is listed in the Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy and can count toward general elective credit. We’re working to evaluate whether the class can count for other purposes, but we, unfortunately, can’t confirm other credit uses at this time. However, the class is a great opportunity to get a taste of ethics material to help you consider future courses in this area, such as HASS electives.
The final project for this class is highly flexible, both in terms of format and in terms of topic. We will provide you with a variety of format options (e.g., a 2000-word essay, a website, an interview and commentary, a series of vlogs, etc.) You are also welcome to propose your own format. We encourage you to connect your final project to something you are working on or experiencing during the summer—an internship, UROP, or independent project, for example. However, the topic is ultimately up to you, pending approval by your teaching fellow. Scroll down for examples of past projects.
Expand your moral imagination and build your ethical toolkit by completing a HASS Concentration in Ethics, or develop a multidisciplinary understanding of the technical and sociocultural pracitice and human implications of computation through the HASS Concentration in Computing and Society.
Become an agent of change by joining the Algorithmic Justice League, an MIT-based organization combines art and research to illuminate the social implications and harms of artificial intelligence
Use Envisioning Cards to help you consider long-term societal implications of your design and engineering projects.
Stand up for ethical and impactful uses of science with the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization formed in 1969 by student and scientist activists at MIT.
Find articles and videos discussing the societal impacts of technology curated by Build Tech We Trust.
Tyler Schoulte | 2020 | Tell Me About Yourself: A.I. Edition
Daniela Velez | 2020 | Ethics of Facial Recognition Technology During Covid-19
Joyce An | 2020 | Video on the ethics of social-network-based hiring
Dasha Castillo | 2020 | Police Presence in K-12 American Schools