Proposal for a New Course in Computer Science: Ethical Challenges in Technology; The Struggle over YouTube’s Recommendation Algorithm

Snow, Sarah, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Zhang, Aidong, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Innovative technologies are often intensely controversial, and responsible software engineers must consider how product development affects the public good.
At the University of Virginia, there are no required courses in the computer science curriculum focused on modern-day computing ethics. Students seeking professional careers in software development are ill-equipped to measure the impact of public-facing industry work. A new course offering, Ethical Challenges in Technology, will provide high-level overviews of ethical issues in computer science. The course will prepare students to evaluate the social implications of computing technology.
How have the critics and defenders of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm strived to advance their agendas? In recent years, the video-sharing platform has faced intense criticism for its ability to spread misinformation. However, independent researchers have struggled to quantify the algorithm’s role in disseminating harmful content. and YouTube policies have evolved to address shifting public perception and business priorities.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
ethics, course proposal, YouTube, recommendation algorithm, misinformation

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Technical Advisor: Aidong Zhang

STS Advisor: Peter Norton

Issued Date: