This article is published in the February 2023 issue.

Fostering Responsible Computing Research White Paper Released

The National Academies (NASEM) recognized the need for computing researchers in academia, industry, and government to consider the ethical and societal impacts of their work. Thus, the NASEM Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) formed a study committee which consisted of researchers with expertise across many areas of computer science and engineering, information science, computing technology development, social sciences, philosophy, and law, to work on a consensus study: Responsible Computing Research: Ethics and Governance of Computing Research and its Applications. The result of the study is a National Academies report published late last year: Fostering Responsible Computing Research: Foundations and Practices.

Recently, Computing Community Consortium (CCC) released a white paper, “Fostering Responsible Computing Research Report Recommendations for Computing Research Institutions: Actionable Steps,” which outlines the conclusions of the report, and presents a few community-generated ideas about implementing its findings at computing institutions. It is crucial that the computing community takes the findings of the report seriously, and takes immediate steps to compute more ethically and sustainably. Taking these intentional steps does not require computing researchers to become experts in ethics nor social and behavioral sciences. The focus should be on developing fundamental knowledge of and appreciation for responsible computing methods and approaches in the talent pool of students and researchers, which will require significant adjustments to the status quo.

The paper also describes CRA’s recently formed Socially Responsible Computing Working Group, which will advise the CRA Board on research ethics procedures, best practices for calls for papers and manuscript review, and sustainability issues in computing. If you have any questions about the Working Group or want to learn more, you can email the co-chairs Ran Libeskind-Hadas or Ellen Zegura.