Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Is that true that CS students don't take an ethics course? I have a 10 year old SE degree and I took 3, only 1 of which was engineering specific. (I took a philosophy ethics course, which really isn't that relevant to issues like these anyway, but also a course that was specific to ethical issues in computing.)

OTOH, I'm skeptical those courses change behavior, and in this particular case others in comments are saying this is a common architecture in the space, so how could anyone solve this ethical conundrum if getting to the base level of whether this is an ethical conundrum to begin with is difficult?

In my opinion courses wouldn't change behavior, modern computer science is designed to infantalize coders and make them interchangeable. Think of all the effort startups put into marketing themselves as "COOL TO WORK FOR"/"WE HAVE BEER ON FRIDAYS". These reinforce the idea that you are small and need management to tell you exactly what to do everyday, because you're a dumb idiot who spends all day watching anime and playing video games.

In that environment, serious ethical concerns could easily be brushed aside as "coders just being coders". When Google got found out for making drones, the employees of a company staged a 5 minute walkout.... that was it, I'm sure some people quit, but not enough to make any impact


>marketing themselves as "COOL TO WORK FOR"/"WE HAVE BEER ON FRIDAYS",

"the idea that you are small and need management to tell you exactly what to do everyday, because you're a dumb idiot who spends all day watching anime and playing video games" does not follow.

They make efforts to cast the coders as young people who can be swayed by marketing gimmicks instead of real workplace concerns like benefits, livability, consistent work/life balance. That culture permiates the entire engineering culture

I took one course that briefly touched on engineering ethics in my ECE program. Nothing even remotely resembling the ethics courses taken by the Mechanical/Civil/Structural guys.

I had one ethics course. Class of 2013 in a prominent Pennsylvania university.

SE = structural engineering? That's cool, I'm glad your discipline is receiving some ethical training. I've never heard of any CS program including any sort of engineering or general ethics courses in their curricula.

Every single CS baccalaureate degree from the University of Illinois has required from at least 2005[1] a mandatory engineering ethics course (CS 210).

Note that the UofI has always been in the top ten nationally for CS; its 2020 rank is #6 (behind MIT, CMU, UCBerkeley, Georgia Inst. of Tech, and Stanford).

1: 2005: https://web.archive.org/web/20050321215749/http://courses.ui...

2: 2019: https://cs.illinois.edu/academics/undergraduate/degree-progr...

Yeah, as others said, by SE I meant software engineering. Lots of overlapping acronyms, I usually don't use them, but in this context I thought I'd get away with it.

I liked my ethics course in the philosophy department, but that's more about J.S. Mill, and Kant and the rest. Engineering ethics was a course any Eng. degree had to take, interesting, but hard to apply also. You go through case studies and look at them, but to have any productive class discussion they kinda have to be broken down to be at least somewhat clear and concise.

I don't feel like getting into here, but I feel like even this Boeing issue, which is pretty clear, is less clear than any case study in a textbook.

My CS degree certainly did from University of Manchester.

Its also my understanding that most do.

BTW: SE typically means Software Engineering in this context.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact