Get out of the BAG! Silos in AI Ethics Education: Unsupervised Topic Modeling Analysis of Global AI Curricula

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Rana Tallal Javed
Osama Nasir
Melania Borit
Loïs Vanhée
Elias Zea
Shivam Gupta
Ricardo Vinuesa
Junaid Qadir


The domain of Artificial Intelligence (AI) ethics is not new, with discussions going back at least 40 years. Teaching the principles and requirements of ethical AI to students is considered an essential part of this domain, with an increasing number of technical AI courses taught at several higher-education institutions around the globe including content related to ethics. By using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA), a generative probabilistic topic model, this study uncovers topics in teaching ethics in AI courses and their trends related to where the courses are taught, by whom, and at what level of cognitive complexity and specificity according to Bloom’s taxonomy. In this exploratory study based on unsupervised machine learning, we analyzed a total of 166 courses: 116 from North American universities, 11 from Asia, 36 from Europe, and 10 from other regions. Based on this analysis, we were able to synthesize a model of teaching approaches, which we call BAG (Build, Assess, and Govern), that combines specific cognitive levels, course content topics, and disciplines affiliated with the department(s) in charge of the course. We critically assess the implications of this teaching paradigm and provide suggestions about how to move away from these practices. We challenge teaching practitioners and program coordinators to reflect on their usual procedures so that they may expand their methodology beyond the confines of stereotypical thought and traditional biases regarding what disciplines should teach and how.

This article appears in the AI & Society track.

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