Lilly Endowment Grants to Address Digital Ethical Concerns

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(image courtesy of Pixabay/Gerd Altmann) (image courtesy of Pixabay/Gerd Altmann)

Ethics and technology are meeting at the crossroads and Hoosier universities are attempting to address those issues. Indiana University and Purdue University have received grants from Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. totaling nearly $900,000 to incorporate ethics into digital technology curricula.

The schools will collaborate on efforts to explore how students and faculty can better prepare to address the ethical challenges they face in ever-changing digital technology, such as artificial intelligence and big data management.

“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. 

Maple says it’s vital that universities develop curricula and programs for their students that will “instill ethical values while teaching relevant scientific and technological principles.”

Lilly Endowment says Purdue will use a $490,000 grant to create an initiative focusing on ethics in the technology world. It will operate through 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,” said David Reingold, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue.

IU will use a nearly $350,000 grant to launch its own ethics endeavors which will be housed at the IU Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture.

“Digital technologies – from artificial intelligence to genetic engineering – present new challenges to society,” said IU Vice President for Research Fred H. Cate. “This planning grant will provide critical support for IU to collaborate with Purdue to build curricula and programs that better prepare students to address these challenges.”

Meanwhile, the University of Notre Dame has announced it will add 15 new faculty positions to its recently established Technology Ethics Center. ND-TEC, like the Purdue and IU efforts, aims to address the increasingly complex and continuously evolving ethical and policy questions related to the impact of technology on society and individuals.

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