Data, Privacy and Ethics

Philosophy 241 

Lewis & Clark College

Dr. Joel A. Martinez

This course explores important interactions between ethics, contemporary data science, and emerging social issues. Students will grapple with foundational concepts in ethics and data science. The course begins with a brief introduction to ethical issues related to technology generally and in data science. The course then pairs theoretical discussions of ethics with concrete issues in emerging technologies. Discussion topics include racial bias in machine learning, predictive policing, mass surveillance and privacy, the social and psychological impact of social media technologies, and technological unemployment. The final two weeks will be devoted to a topic chosen by the students in this course.


Week 11


A. Nick Dyer-Witheford, Atle Mikkola Kjøsen, and James Steinhoff, Inhuman Power: Artificial
Intelligence and the Future of Capitalism (Pluto, 2019), “A Machine Can Be Made to Simulate
It” (from Introduction), and selections from Chapter 1: “Means of Cognition”

B. Neil McArthur and Markie Twist, “For the love of technology! Sex robots and virtual reality” (The
Conversation, Feb 2019)

C. GPT-3, “A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?” (The Guardian, Sep 2020)


A. Norman Geras, Literature of Revolution: Essays on Marxism (Verso, 2017), Chapter 2: “Fetishism”

B. Astra Taylor, “The Automation Charade” (Logic, Aug 2018)

C. Astra Taylor, “Sylvia Federici in Conversation with Astra Taylor” (interview), selection: “Robots All
the Way Down” (The Believer, Jun 2019)

D. Mike Cook, “A Basic Lack of Understanding” (Notes From Below, Mar 2018)