A Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 co-educational independent day school in Westchester, New York

Character Spotlight: Sixth Annual RCDS Ethics Project

Twenty-two Upper School students gathered for the sixth annual RCDS Ethics Project, an interdisciplinary faculty-led retreat aimed at expanding students’ knowledge and analytical skills around matters pertaining to ethical awareness and active, purpose-driven engagement. This year’s retreat examined ethical issues and questions surrounding Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). Students reviewed case studies that shed light on the ethical implications of data collection and privacy, bias, and the degree to which A.I. can or should make decisions for humans. They unpacked the interplay between technology and humans, delving into machine learning, algorithms, automated decisions, and due process in the context of Artificial Intelligence systems. A set of framing questions guided the students' collaborative work, prompting them to identify in each case the various stakeholders and constituencies, the concerns of each stakeholder and constituency, the responsibilities of each stakeholder and constituency, and the “competing goods.” With each case, students considered what the relationship between humans and machines ought to be and considered different ethical approaches, trying to determine which approach would provide best and most ethical guidelines for decision-making. 
Reflecting on the program, Jenny Heath, Grade 11 Dean and Upper School English Teacher, shared, “At its core, the purpose of the Ethics Project is to foster curiosity among participants, and this year was no different. Everyone asked thoughtful questions, made insightful connections, and brought their individual passions to the table. For me, one of the highlights was the number of students who volunteered to present about a host of topics: machine learning training models, linear regression algorithms, the work of the non-profit Algorithmic Justice League, to name a few.  It was a terrific opportunity for me to learn from my colleagues and students!”

2021 Ethics Project Faculty

  • Cathie Bischoff, STEAM Director; US Science Teacher
  • Clemmie Everett, Grade 9 Dean; US Humanities Teacher
  • Jenny Heath, Grade 11 Dean; US English Teacher

2021 Guest Speakers

Kasey Luo, RCDS Class of 2017, is completing her undergraduate studies in computer science, arts, and psychology at Stanford University. She has worked for Google Health on projects that use A.I.  models for diagnosing Diabetitc Retinopathy. She gave Ethics Project participants a presentation on Machine Learning, as well as federal regulations on what A.I. can and cannot do in medical imaging and diagnostics.

Dr. Chitra Dorai is a globally renowned A.I. scientist and thought leader, focused on bringing the power of A.I. to tackle some of the most important societal problems at the intersection of healthcare and financial services. Dr. Dorai, known as a ‘Force for Good’ prioritizes advancing A.I. research and practice with accountability, responsibility, and transparency for the benefit of humanity.
Dr. Dorai has an extensive career at IBM, with her last role being the Global CTO for cognitive services in IBM’s Global Business Services unit. In 2011, she was a recipient of IBM’s highest honor, the Gerstner Award for Client Excellence. In 2012, she was recognized as an IBM Distinguished Engineer. In 2015, she was appointed by the IBM CEO as an IBM Fellow, the company’s preeminent technical honor. Her ground-breaking work from 2009 until 2015 on customer-focused analytics and A.I. solutions in mortgage servicing saved thousands of struggling homeowners facing foreclosure with the right homeownership retention programs and alternative workout options during one of the most challenging times in the history of the U.S. housing market. In 2016, she was profiled as a ‘Societal Innovator at the IBM HQ. In 2018, she received The Visionary Award from the National Association of Women in Real Estate Business.

Dr. Mercy Nyamewaa Asiedu is a biomedical engineer who studies disparities in healthcare around the globe and how they might be addressed through advancements and innovations in technology and machine learning. After attending high school in Ghana, she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Rochester and then received her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and a certificate in Global Health at Duke University. As part of her Ph.D., Dr. Asiedu developed the Callascope, an imaging device and mobile application that allows for accessible, self-cervical cancer screening. In 2019, she was a Schmidt Science Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

 G.W. Constable is an author who also has an established career in software startups as a product leader and entrepreneur, building many internet marketplaces and, in the mid-2000s, virtual worlds and virtual economies. Becoming Monday is his first science-fiction novel. He has written two non-fiction books on innovation and entrepreneurship (under the name Giff Constable), which won a special award from the National Science Foundation and are in use at leading universities and accelerators around the world.

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