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Can machines be good or evil?

In this short course, you'll explore the ethical implications of digital innovation – from Chat GPT to automated warfare.

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Global Ethics and Digital Technologies

Key facts
Format: online, self-directed (distance learning) 
Tuition fees: free
Course duration:  3 weeks
Next start date:  continuous enrolment
Application deadline:  none
Time commitment:  approximately 8-10 hours per week

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Our world is more interconnected than ever before.

Global ethics considers the ethical implications of our actions on an international scale. It's about recognising that our choices have consequences far beyond our immediate surroundings, and that we all have a responsibility to consider our impact on people and the planet.

In this short course, we focus specifically on the ethics of digital technologies and their impact on politics and society. Using key concepts and theories, you’ll be challenged to think critically and creatively about some of the biggest ethical issues of our time – from artificial intelligence to data privacy, digital discrimination to automated warfare.

By the end of the course, you’ll have gained a greater knowledge of the ethical challenges and opportunities that digital technologies present. You’ll be more confident applying your ethical reasoning skills to real-world scenarios and cases, and have a deeper understanding of how global ethics can help to create a more equitable and sustainable future for all.

This could be the beginning of a transformative journey: an online International Relations MA could be your next step towards even deeper exploration, specialist skills and knowledge, and the opportunity to make a meaningful real-world impact.

About the School of Politics and International Relations 

Welcome to the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London. We’re a bustling and dynamic community, dedicated to expanding opportunities, producing world-class research, and taking on the biggest global issues. Our roots are in East London, but our vision is global. Join us in shaping the future of politics.

This course offers the chance to learn from some of the School’s leading experts, with video and written content created by:

  • Dr Diego de Merich, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, whose research and teaching focus on the ethics of care and empathy, equalities mainstreaming, and the ethics of international development.
  • Dr Elke Schwarz, Reader in Political Theory, who specialises in the ethical and political implications of emerging technologies and digital media, political theory and theories of war.
  • Professor Kim Hutchings, Professor of Politics and International Relations, world-renowned specialist in global ethics, the history of political thought, feminist political theory, and theories of political violence.

They’ll share their insights and perspectives on some of the most pressing issues and challenges facing the world today.

What you'll learn

In this course, you'll embark on a three-week journey exploring the intersection of technology and power, the moral and ethical implications of a digital world, and the captivating field of Global Ethics. Find out more about what you'll learn in each week:

Week 1: The Ubiquity, Power and Politics of (Digital) Technologies 

From smart cities to the Metaverse, what might future political environments look like?

Technology is transforming politics as we know it, creating new possibilities for democracy, discourse, governance, and human rights. But it also poses significant risks. In the first week, we’ll explore the eye-opening intersection of technology and power, paying particular attention to how algorithms, one of the driving forces behind this shift, affect our political perceptions, choices, and outcomes.

By imagining future political environments, we’ll explore what transformations might mean for state sovereignty and global co-operation.

Week 2: The Ethics of Technology  

This week, we’ll shift our focus to the moral and ethical implications of living in an increasingly digital world. Discover how ethical philosophy can help us navigate this ever-changing landscape and explore the ethical dilemmas posed by ground-breaking technologies such as driverless cars, Chat GPT, and Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems.

Plus, you’ll have the chance to see QMUL’s very own Dr Elke Schwarz in action – in a pre-recorded video, she will share her insights on the importance of human agency in the face of new technologies.

It's a thought-provoking and essential exploration of the ethics of technology that will challenge your thinking and expand your horizons.

Week 3: Global Ethics  

In our final week, we’ll delve into the fascinating sub-field of International Relations: Global Ethics. With content from Queen Mary’s experts, Professor Kim Hutchings and Dr Diego de Merich, you’ll explore the most pressing questions, themes, concepts, and theories surrounding Global Ethics.

From traditional approaches like deontology and consequentialism to alternative theories such as care ethics and Ubuntu, you’ll be exposed to a range of different perspectives. We’ll reflect on several key themes and challenges in contemporary world politics and consider the ethical challenges they pose.

How you'll learn

Over the course of three weeks of self-directed study, you'll be introduced to key concepts and debates in global ethics.

Our collection of engaging resources provides everything you need to expand your knowledge and spark your curiosity. They include:

  • Selected readings
  • Videos
  • Reflective activities
  • Suggestions for further reading and study options
  • Short quizzes at the end of each week to consolidate your understanding
  • Student Notebook to keep track of your learning journey and record your thoughts and responses.

And with input from leading scholars at Queen Mary's School of Politics and International Relations, you'll be learning from the best.

Get ready to sharpen your critical thinking skills and broaden your perspectives, as you begin to make sense of the rapid technological developments happening around us and their ethical implications.


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