Not available in 2022/23
GV250      Half Unit
Ethics and Politics of Artificial Intelligence

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Zeynep Pamuk


This course is available on the BSc in History and Politics, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Data Science, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and International Relations and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.


Students must have completed Introduction to Political Science (GV101).

Course content

This course examines the ethical and political questions that arise from the use of machine learning algorithms in a broad range of social and policy areas. Through case studies in criminal justice, the workplace, social media, care, sex, warfare, traffic and art the course will reflect on the concepts of fairness, equality, freedom, democracy, power, privacy, property, moral responsibility, rights, and the public sphere and explore their changing meanings in a technological society. It will pay special attention to the relationship between individual ethics, political action and public policy.

Outline of weekly topics:

1. Introduction: Ethics and politics in a technological society

2. Statistical discrimination in criminal justice and the labor market

3. Social media, free speech and democracy

4. Ethics of big data: Privacy and ownership

5. Surveillance and state power

6. Automation I: Work

7. Automation II: Sex and care

8. Automation III: Self-driving cars and killer robots

9. Robots and us

10. From ethics to aesthetics: The politics of digital taste-making


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

One 1500-word essay, due in the MT.

Indicative reading

  • Kasper Lippert‐Rasmussen. "Nothing personal: On statistical discrimination." Journal of Political Philosophy 15, no. 4 (2007): 385-403.
  • Benedict Rumbold and James Wilson. "Privacy rights and public information." Journal of Political Philosophy 27, no. 1 (2019): 3-25.
  • John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Ch. 2
  • Spiekermann, Kai et al. "Big data justice: A case for regulating the global information commons." The Journal of Politics 83, no. 2 (2021): 577-588.
  • Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, pp. 195-217.
  • Bernard Harcourt, Exposed: Desire and Discipline in the Digital Age.
  • Shoshana Zuboff, “Big other: Surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization." Journal of Information Technology 30, no. 1 (2015): 75-89.
  • Cynthia Estlund, "What should we do after work: Automation and employment." Yale Law Journal 128 (2018), pp. 254; 283-300 (Section 2)
  • Amanda Sharkey and Noel Sharkey, "Granny and the robots: Ethical issues in robot care for the elderly." Ethics and Information Technology 14, no. 1 (2012): 27-40.
  • Robert Sparrow. "Killer robots." Journal of Applied Philosophy 24, no. 1 (2007): 62-77.


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills