Purdue, IU get $840K challenge to study teaching ethics in big data eraBIG Data

WEST LAFAYETTE – How will universities handle curriculum that teaches students professional ethics in an age of artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning?

The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment will put more than $840,000 into that question, challenging Purdue and Indiana University to study standards for ethical research and professional practices.

In grants announced last week, Purdue will get a $491,043 planning grant from Lilly Endowment to support what is being called “Leading Ethically in the Age of AI and Big Data.”

IU will get a $348,980 planning grant from Lilly Endowment for a related project called “Developing Character for a Digital World.”

The two universities are expected to share their research in what Lilly Endowment officials said would be a coordinated effort.

Purdue’s study will be led by the College of Liberal Arts but is expected to bring in national experts in academia, business, government and other fields to, as Lilly Endowment put it, “to help foster character and ethical values in their students as they learn the science and technology relating to digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence and big data management.”

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The goal, Purdue officials said: Create a model for professional ethics in the field and address  questions about security and privacy tied to big data and who will regulate management of artificial intelligence and big data.

 “All sectors of society are concerned about professional ethics in the context of artificial intelligence and data science,” said David Reingold, dean of Purdue’s  College of Liberal Arts. “While there are many edges of concern, there is consensus that leaders need both an understanding of the ethical implications and the possibilities of AI and data management.”

The IU study – pulling from cross-section of faculty from the Bloomington campus, including law, medicine, business, philanthropy and the humanities – will deal with ethics in professional and academic fields, focusing on six areas: life sciences,  artificial intelligence, digital communications and social media, national and homeland security, the intersection of business, finance and law and justice, and the intersection of digital arts and humanities, education and research.

IU is expected to develop an integrated curriculum “to prepare students and faculty to confront current and future ethical challenges in an increasingly digital word,” according to Lilly Endowment’s description.

“It is imperative that students today be prepared to address responsibly the ethical implications of the ever-expanding digital technologies that will be so much a part of their lives and future careers,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “Character development has been a long-standing interest of Lilly Endowment, and we are pleased that Purdue and IU are collaborating on developing curricula and programs for their students that will instill ethical values while teaching relevant scientific and technological principles.”

Reach Dave Bangert at 765-420-5258 or at [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @davebangert.

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