Illinois Tech Ethics News
Spring 2021 Newsletter
Free Workshop
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What Can Tech Community do?
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So Re Mo
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Building Inclusive Ethical Cultures in STEM
Free Workshop: Register
This two-day workshop seeks to share best practices to effectively engage students and faculty working in research labs and lab-based classrooms in building inclusive ethical cultures. This training moves beyond traditional research ethics training into frameworks and approaches to strengthen the ethical culture in research labs.
The workshop will feature a series of short presentations and panel discussions that showcase best practices and approaches to embedding educational interventions in research labs and lab-based courses. This will be followed by a discussion of effective frameworks for implementing recommendations made by the panelists as well as best practices and potential hurdles in implementing these frameworks. Participants of the workshop will also be guided through the development of personalized plans for implementing some of these educational interventions in their labs, courses or departments.
Technology and Social Justice Speaker Series: What Can the Tech Community Do?
Please mark your calendars for these upcoming events to be held on the Third Tuesday of the Month: April 20, May 18
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (via Zoom)
Link: Event Zoom Link
Panel April 20: Practitioners and Their Employers: Tech workers, including developers at some of the largest tech companies, have begun to push back against the use of their application code for purposes that violate the norms of social justice. Some of their leaders have been fired for their outspoken opposition; Developers at some companies, including Google, have united to form unions to press, not for wages, but rather for control over how their product is used. Our panel will include tech workers who themselves have been involved in these initiatives, and members of the legal and policy communities.
Panel May 18: Tech Company Equal Employment Policies: Many technology companies have stated their commitment to Social Justice and vowed to increase the numbers of African-Americans, ethnic minorities and women in the ranks of their technical and management staffs. What steps are being taken by these companies to equalize opportunity within their organizations? What are the results of their actions? These and related questions will be discussed by our panelists.
Sponsored by the Illinois Institute of Technology, Office of Community Affairs and the Real Time Communications Lab
CSEP Research Assistant Leilasadat (Leila) Mirghaderi has been selected as a SoReMo fellow for Spring 2021
SoReMo advocates for ethical, equitable approaches in computation, modeling, and design, contributing to the common good of Chicago and beyond through research and education initiatives at Illinois Tech. For more information, visit:
Leila is working on a project titled “Social Media Users Free Labor in Iran: Influencers, ethical conduct and labor exploitation”. As social media sites are penetrating our daily lives in an ever-increasing manner, there is a need to revisit and reexplore the theoretical concepts that have gone through paradigm shifts due to the influence of these platforms. In this regard, audience labor theory which was originally conceptualized in the context of mass media needs to be reexamined, as the divide between production and consumption is getting narrower. Users are no longer passive consumers since social media sites have reduced the cost of production and resulted in the advent of the term “prosumption”. In such a case, as production involves performing work and results in surplus-value, it needs to be investigated whether users are being exploited for the free work they provide on these platforms. From the several identified forms of digital labor, I will focus on the concept of audience labor. To this end, I will focus on how Iranian Instagram influencers exploit their followers to perform tasks that result in their prosperity, but the users are left uncompensated for the work they have performed.
CSEP research assistant Mónika Sziron is conducting research regarding AI ethics in agriculture. The survey for anyone who works in agriculture or farms in the Midwest is available here:
AI Ethics Documents in the Public, Private, and NGO Sectors: A Review of a Global Document Collection
Ethics Center Librarian Kelly Laas recently published a paper with her colleagues Daniel Schiff, Jason Borenstein, and Jason Biddle of Georgia Tech looking at how artificial intelligence ethics codes and guidelines differ across sectors. Large sectoral differences were found in terms of the breadth of topics covered, which sectors are more engaged with law and regulation, and what sectors use a more participatory approach in writing these guidelines. The paper titled “AI Ethics Documents in the Public, Private, and NGO Sectors: A Review of a Global Document Collection” has been published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society.
Book Review
CSEP research assistant Leilasadat Mirghaderi’s book review of “Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media” by Sarah T. Roberts has been published in the journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies.
Sarah T. Roberts’ Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media sheds light on the fact that what we see on the internet, especially social media platforms, has gone through intervention by a group of moderators who have an essential, yet invisible role. Roberts’ work in this book is based on an extensive multi-sited ethnographic study of commercial content moderators (CCMs) from the tech giants in Silicon Valley, United States, to the call centers of Manila, Philippines. It has become Roberts’ life’s work to bring the facts about CCMs to light, with the aim of changing the landscape for them.