SERC Symposium 2023
On April 18, the Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing (SERC) brought together social scientists and humanists with engineers, computer scientists, and computing-related faculty for a daylong symposium at MIT to address the challenges and opportunities that have emerged with the broad applicability of computing in many aspects of our society.
Through a series of panels and sessions, a multidisciplinary line up of speakers provided their expertise and perspectives on a range of relevant topics — from how algorithm design can serve the greater social good to the role of ethics in computing education.
The symposium also highlighted the vision and activities of SERC by showcasing the work that is already taking place by faculty, postdocs, and students and the ways in which they are advancing SERC-related education and research across disciplines at MIT.
- Dan Huttenlocher, Dean, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing
- Georgia Perakis, Associate Dean of SERC, MIT Schwarzman College Computing & William F. Pounds Professor of Management, MIT Sloan
Algorithms are now impacting every aspect of our lives, whether in the context of social media, online commerce, automated tasks, and now a wider range of interactions with the advent of large language models. There is little doubt that more is to come.
In a short few years, we have seen the best and worst of algorithms. They have amplified and propagated misinformation, increased the dominance and massive data collection efforts of a few companies, they have contributed to automation and increasing inequality, and they have deepened already existing biases. But they have also broken new ground in diagnosis, information sharing and communication, and as decision-making aids.
How can we understand what is to come and shape it to improve outcomes for the majority of humanity? Our panel brings experts from computing, social science and data science to discuss this critical question.
Moderator: Asu Ozdaglar, Deputy Dean of Academics, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing & Head, MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS)
- Srini Devadas, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
- John Horton, Professor of Information Technology, MIT Sloan School of Management
- Simon Johnson, Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan
- Sarah Williams, Associate Professor of Technology and Urban Planning, MIT
Session Chair: Georgia Perakis, Associate Dean of SERC, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing & William F. Pounds Professor of Management, MIT Sloan
- Fotini Christia, Associate Director, Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) & Ford International Professor of Political Science, MIT
- Maximilian Kasy, Professor of Economics, Oxford
- Retsef Levi, J. Spencer Standish (1945) Professor of Operations Management, MIT Sloan
- Manish Raghavan, Assistant Professor of Information Technology, MIT Sloan & EECS
Session Chair: Dimitris Bertsimas, Associate Dean for Business Analytics & Professor of Operations Research, MIT Sloan
- Swati Gupta, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Tech
- Amy Moran Thomas, Associate Professor of Anthropology, MIT and Valencia Joyner Koomson, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Tufts University & Associate Professor of Computer Science, Tisch College
- Dimitris Bertsimas, Associate Dean for Business Analytics & Professor of Operations Research, MIT Sloan and Nikos Trichakis, Associate Professor of Operations Management, MIT Sloan
Session Chair: Dan Huttenlocher, Dean, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing
- Vivek Farias, Professor of Operations Management, MIT Sloan
- Sendhil Mullainathan, Professor of Computation and Behavioral Science, Chicago Booth
- Ashesh Rambachan, Assistant Professor of Economics, MIT
- Ashia Wilson, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
Students at MIT will be developing computing technologies that will transform society in radical ways. We want them to proceed thoughtfully, intentionally, and with proper sensitivity to risk. Can we teach these things? If so, how? Our panelists have ideas.
We will discuss ‘embedded ethics’ vs stand-alone course models. We will discuss the role and efficacy of case studies. We will discuss what history can and can’t tell our students about the future. And we will discuss an elephant in the room: How do you teach ethics to students who have easy access to generative AI?
Moderator: Caspar Hare, Associate Dean of SERC, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing & Professor of Philosophy, MIT
- John Basl, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Northeastern University
- Eden Medina, Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society, MIT
- Milo Phillips-Brown, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Oxford