Social responsibility of computer scientists

Short Name
Ges. Verantw. Informatik
Module Code
Module Coordinator
  • Prof. Dr. Alexander Dworschak
  • Christian Wenzel-Benner
Short Description

Microtargeting, credit scoring, removing journalists from events they are covering due to crimes they did not commit and killing humans based on metadata: computer science transforms society, radically. This module tackles current questions regarding the relationship of computer scientists and society.

Learning Objectives
    The students understand the social responsibility of computer scientists and engineers in our modern society. They have an understanding of applied ethics and can use this understanding to analyze questions pertaining to their roles in business and society, including but not limited to surveillance technology, targeted killings and the automated rejection of applicants based on scoring algorithms.

Role models from the 20th and 21st century

  • Joseph Weizenbaum, mathematician
  • Aaron Swartz, programmer
  • Dan Bernstein, security researcher

Theoretical background on „good” and „bad” actions

  • applied ethics (utilitarianism v. deontology )
  • goals, means, side effects
  • rights ethics, claim rights and liberty rights
  • game theory, war and globalisation

Paper presentations and discussion

Duration in Semester
Instruction Language
Total Effort
6.0 CrP; an estimated 180 hours, of which approximately 60 are spent in class.
Weekly School Hours
Method of Instruction
Requirements for the awarding of Credit Points

Examination prerequisite: Regular attendance (80%) and active participation in the lecture.

Examination: Written elaboration and presentation

Evaluation Standard
    no grade according to examination regulations (§ 3)
  • Dietmar Hübner: Einführung in die philosophische Ethik, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2014
  • Online-Videovorlesung von Prof. Dietmar Hübner (