Summary: We need to move beyond the quick fixes that are not working; and invest in the next generation of technologists by radically re-shaping why and how we teach computer science.
Original authors and publication date: Ariam Mogos and Laura McBain - January 25, 2021
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: We (humans) are the problem. Let’s be also the solution.
From the article:
As we transition into the new year reckoning with a violent insurrection organized on social media, the spread of disinformation about a deadly pandemic and breakdowns in distance learning, it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the impact of technology on every facet of our society. We all have been equally unified in our frustrations and concerns that we are inching closer to a dystopian future.
2020 shed more visibility on how racism, sexism, and other -isms permeate technology and will continue to create divides that may become irreparable. In the tech world, there have been DEI efforts, legislation targeting the racist impact of technology, warnings from ethicists and independent bias ratings created to rein in the harm—but none of these solutions address the real issue: humans.
We must confront how the destructive harm unfolding through our technologies today is a reflection of the implicit bias and prejudice of the designers building the technology—and how they were taught. Many designers don’t know how to identify harmful bias and are completely unaware of how their own biases shape the products they build. So how can we start addressing this issue head-on in 2021?
Humans are the problem, and luckily education offers a solution.
We need to move beyond the quick fixes that are not working; and invest in the next generation of technologists by radically re-shaping why and how we teach computer science.
The natural place to start is within the broad but influential community of computer science education, which includes teachers, administrators, curriculum designers and anyone involved in shaping how future technologists learn.
Our young people need to be technically proficient in Python, R and Lisp to build AI, machine learning and other emerging technologies. However computing skills are not enough; we need to equip our young people with knowledge, skills and moral courage to design equitable tech that dismantles existing power dynamics, protects non-dominant groups, represents everyone and prioritizes the well-being of society.
As CS and technology educators we have helped create dozens of spaces for young people to tinker with technology for over a decade. Reflecting back on that time span, we can’t help but wonder how many young people graduated from those spaces capable of building a new bot, but incapable of recognizing their own biases. Where are they now? What cool and potentially dangerous technology have they put into the world? We cannot go back in time; but we can use this new insight to design a better, more equitable vision for computer science education.