Science / Technology and Health

Seattle U continues to lead on and off campus in issues of emerging technologies

Written by Lincoln Vander Veen

August 27, 2020

As Seattle U continues to grow its footprint in the research and teaching of emerging technologies and ethics, expect the Initiative in Ethics and Transformative Technologies to continue playing a leading role.

Two years on, Seattle U’s Initiative in Ethics and Transformative Technologies (IETT), a project funded by Microsoft as part of a gift to the Center for Science and Innovation, continues to make an impact on campus and beyond. The strategic initiatives are designed to get people of all ages, interests and backgrounds learning about emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data solutions.

As noted in The Newsroom’s story from April, IETT’s first strategic initiative was a short course on ethics in emerging technologies, meant to raise awareness and help people engage in critical thinking around the topic of responsible business use of AI, says IETT’s Managing Director Nathan Colaner. And it has shown great success: more than 600 people have engaged in its learning modules and listened to Seattle U academic leaders disentangle complex issues.

IETT is purposefully engaged in the Seattle U chapter of AI4ALL, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase diversity and inclusion in artificial intelligence by introducing high school students to both the promise of emerging technologies and the peril of those technologies void of an ethical foundation. Colaner and other Seattle U faculty created the AI4ALL course and students who complete it receive college credits.

“IETT is supporting AI4All in a few ways,” Colaner says. “We provided $15,000 for scholarships and (College of Science & Engineering) Dean Mike Quinn, IETT’s executive director, helps introduce students to the ethics of machine learning and artificial intelligence to wrap up the course.”

Finally, Colaner and Quinn are recruiting more Seattle U faculty to join IETT. The Faculty Fellows Program is currently receiving applications from faculty and will select them based on their potential to benefit from and contribute to IETT. Faculty from communication, law, management and philosophy have joined IETT.

“More of our faculty want to get in the game (of emerging technologies),” explains Colaner. “The first few meetings of the new set of faculty fellows will dispel myths about the level of technical background necessary to do meaningful research in the responsible use of digital technologies. As a result, we expect that many of them will create original research in their own disciplines.”

As Seattle U continues to grow its footprint in the research and teaching of emerging technologies and ethics, expect IETT to continue playing a leading role.