Oxford wants to ‘decolonise’ computer science studies and emphasize links to slavery

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dated: 2022-11-19 19:14:47 .

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Oxford has announced it is “decolonising” computer science courses over alleged links between slavery and machine learning.

The university’s computer science department revised the modules to show students “how global histories of dominance and domination have affected the structures of science they see and the assumptions they encounter”.

He says he has a duty to “understand what it means to decolonize the curriculum and examine prejudices that have been taken for granted for decades, if not centuries.”

The college, one of the UK’s oldest IT centres, says there is a “growing awareness” that “new technologies can have negative effects on individuals, communities and whole societies”.

But the department, led by prof. Leslie Ann Goldberg, has come under fire for being “colonized” by American radical critical race theories.

“We need to go beyond understanding these effects to recognize that they are often rooted in a colonial past that, even when benign, sought to impose Western standards and understanding on other countries, and at worst enslaved and reduced local populations, leading to to the divisions and hierarchies of values ​​that are replicated in the vast data sets so often used in machine learning,” faculty leaders said.

It comes after it was revealed last week that the body which advises universities on academic standards is now urging campus leaders to “wake up” by decolonising most departments.

New advice from the Quality Assurance Agency says computing courses should address “how to replicate and reinforce colonial value divisions and hierarchies within subjects”. while mathematics curricula “should inculcate a multicultural and decolonized perspective.”

Oxford’s computer science department announced that “not being racist is not enough” because the university “benefited from and perpetuated attitudes and practices based on deeply false biases and prejudices”.

It argues that, consequently, “conducting research that is truly representative requires an anti-racist stance” including decolonization and “rejecting the conscious and unconscious prejudices of the past.”

The faculty’s new modules include one on computers in society and one on ethics and responsible innovation.

The move comes as UK universities shift their focus from liberal arts degrees to maths, science and engineering degrees to the ills of the British Empire – although critics say it has nothing to do with the curriculum.

The department added that “informatics itself has been characterized as a colonial system that exports technology designed for specific cultural and social contexts to other regions of the world without regard to local needs or contexts.”

It therefore states: “There is an urgent need to work on the decolonization of digital innovation, digital content and digital data to examine how databases and images can support indigenous knowledge systems”.

Toby Young, head of the Free Speech Union, told The Telegraph: “The takeover of Oxford’s computer science department completes the colonization of British universities by the US complaints industrial complex.

“From now on, it doesn’t matter which subject you choose to study at university, whether it’s English or computer science – you’re studying critical race theory.”

Research projects established by the Oxford department include an “ethical hackathon” model designed to help students build fairness and accountability mechanisms into the design of tools and systems.

A University of Oxford spokesman said: “All faculties regularly review and update their curricula to reflect the latest subject developments and recent initiatives have expanded the subjects we teach and research.

“Most science courses include content that covers ethical and social issues related to their subjects. Such content is often formally required by accreditation bodies such as the Institute of Engineering.”

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Oxford wants to ‘decolonise’ computer science studies and emphasize links to slavery

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