Oxford to ‘decolonize’ computer science degree and highlight slavery links

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Oxford has said it will “decolonise” IT curricula over alleged slavery links to machine learning.

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

He says he is committed to “understand what it means to decolonize the curriculum and examining preconceptions that have been taken for granted for decades, if not centuries.”

The faculty, one of the UK’s oldest IT hubs, says there is “a growing awareness” that “new technologies can have a detrimental effect on individuals, communities and societies whole”.

But the department, headed by Professor Leslie Ann Goldberg, has been criticized for “colonizing” himself by American radical critical racial theories.

“We must go beyond understanding these effects to realize that they are often rooted in a colonial past which, even in its mildest form, sought to impose Western norms and understandings on other countries. and, in the worst cases, enslaved and reduced local populations, creating divisions. and value hierarchies that are replicated in the large datasets so often used in machine learning,” the faculty leaders said.

Urge campus leaders to ‘wake up’

It comes after it emerged last week that the body advising universities on degree standards is now urging campus leaders to ‘wake up’ by decolonizing most disciplines.

New advice from the Quality Assurance Agency says IT courses should address “how colonial value divisions and hierarchies are reproduced and reinforced” within the subject. while mathematics curricula “should present a multicultural and decolonized vision”.

Oxford’s computer science department announced that “being non-racist is insufficient” because the university “has benefited from and perpetuated attitudes and practices rooted in deeply mistaken biases and prejudices”.

She argues that as a result, “carrying out truly representative research requires an anti-racist stance”, including decolonization and “rejecting the conscious and unconscious biases of the past”.

New faculty modules include one on computing in society and another on ethics and responsible innovation.

The move comes as UK universities increasingly focus on the evils of the British Empire from humanities courses towards degrees in mathematics, science and engineering – although critics say it has nothing to do with the program.

The department added that “computing itself has been characterized as a colonial system, exporting technology designed for particular cultural and social contexts to other parts of the globe, without regard to local needs or contexts.”

Therefore, it says “there is an urgent need to work on the decolonization of digital innovation, digital content and digital data to explore how databases and images could support indigenous knowledge systems”.

“America’s Grievance Industrial Complex”

Toby Young, head of the Free Speech Union, told the Telegraph: “With the capture of Oxford’s computer science department, the colonization of British universities by the American industrial complex is over.

“From now on, no matter what subject you choose to study at university, whether it’s English or computer science – you will learn critical race theory.”

Among the research projects set up by the Oxford department is an “ethics hackathon” model to help students integrate fairness and accountability mechanisms into the design of tools and systems.

A University of Oxford spokesperson said: ‘All faculties regularly review and update their course curricula to reflect the latest developments in the field, and recent initiatives have expanded the subjects we teach and research. .

“Most science courses include content covering ethical and social issues around their topics. Such content is often formally required by accreditation bodies such as engineering institutions.


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