Summer Institute in Technology Ethics at Santa Clara University
New developments in artificial intelligence are generating unprecedented challenges and opportunities for human flourishing, as well as a wave of urgent calls for expert guidance in the ethical use of AI and other emerging technologies. Yet both the quantity and quality of the available guidance fall short.
That’s where the Summer Institute in Technology Ethics at Santa Clara University (SITE) steps in. SITE is a two-week, intensive, interdisciplinary educational program for philosophers and technologists. It draws on the unique talents of its faculty to bridge significant gaps in the moral expertise available to meet these calls: a knowledge gap and a character gap.
The knowledge gap refers to the missing rigor of many explorations of AI ethics currently in fashion. These methods often overlook the existing body of specialized research on the unique moral challenges of our technological landscape, and AI in particular. The SITE faculty roster includes many of the world’s leading researchers in this field.
The character gap refers to the narrowly cost-benefit and technology-focused character of today’s dialogue on AI ethics. Its primary emphasis is on improving the technology to mitigate its harms and expand its benefits. This conversation neglects the task of making technology a means to further empower and enrich human capacities including those for moral intelligence and shared flourishing. As leading experts in virtue and character-based approaches to technology and AI ethics, the SITE core faculty members fill in this gap.
Shannon Vallor in particular is internationally renowned for her work on using AI to sustain and enhance human moral intelligence and character. The SITE curriculum draws its core inspiration from that orientation. The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics will develop and teach the Summer Institute in Technology Ethics at Santa Clara University in 2020. The pilot will lay the groundwork for an annual program that enhances the rigor and character of moral expertise in AI and technology ethics shared by academics and working technologists.