AI, Ethics, and Geoethics (CS 5970)

Module 1: Daring Leadership and Vulnerability


This assignment will take 2 hours to complete.

  • Read the webpage itself (10-20 min)
  • Watch the videos linked here (25 min)
  • Choose a podcast and listen to it (60-70 min)
  • Post on slack about your podcast (15 min)
  • Complete the declaration in canvas (5 min)

Daring leadership

One of my course goals is that you will learn to become part of the solution to creating ethical algorithms, ethical AI, and to making ethical choices for the use of technology throughout life.  The topics we cover in this class extend far beyond the classroom and into everything we do as scientists!  The need for ethical solutions crosses all job boundaries:  research, academia, government, private industry, and the non-profit sector.  Given the increasing prevalence of AI and algorithmic based solutions throughout society, we need to understand that any code we produce can have unintended consequences.

Learning to recognize potentially harmful consequences of AI (and technology) means thinking outside the box that many of us have grown comfortable with.  Some of the conversations in class will be hard!  Conversations about bias and ethics are hard outside of the classroom as well (look at any social media for evidence!).

I recognize that learning to speak up about ethics and bias will be hard both in class and outside of class!  I don’t expect you to be an expert at this right away.  We are going to practice how to communicate throughout class. 

To help you become the daring leader both in class and for life, we are going to learn a bit more about daring leadership.  If you are interested in learning even more, I highly suggest the Dare to lead book (which is where the quote in the image comes from).  

Integrity is choosing courage over comfort


Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston is a researcher who has studied leadership, vulnerability, and courage for years.  For today, we are going to study her work through videos and podcasts. 

One of her key concepts is that we need to be vulnerable to order to be an effective leader.  Why, you might ask?  Her research points to the fact that the best leaders are those who are courageous.  They are bold and brave and daring.  To get there, they have to be vulnerable.  They have to be willing to open themselves up to others, to practice empathy and not just sympathy, and to understand their core values and how to follow them. 

We need to be vulnerable to ourselves and to others.  In order to really understand what is happening around us, we need to not wall ourselves off from the world.  While this means we may experience pain, we also open ourselves to joy.  Being a leader who handles all sorts of situations (including making ethical choices about AI!) means being brave and daring.

Let’s watch a few videos to learn more!

You can't get to courage without rumbling with vulnerablity


Brené Brown has an excellent TED talk on her work on vulnerability.  This is before her most recent book (Dare to Lead) but it is a good summary of the vulnerability idea.  There is a transcript here.  This video is 20 minutes long.


Here is a short (2 minute) animated video about the difference between empathy and sympathy.  Closed captions are available on this video.


Learning more 

Brené Brown has a number of books about leadership, courage, and vulnerability.  If you are interested in reading more, I really enjoyed the Dare to Lead book mentioned above.  On her website, she has a hub dedicated to this book with a lot extra resources including interviews and many aimed at education.  She even has a specific hub of videos for educators (although most of them are aimed at K-12 teachers, they still apply to our lives in higher education!)

Beyond the Dare to Lead book, Brené Brown has a whole website with videos, blog posts, quotes, downloadable stuff, and podcasts!  She has a blog post to help people decide which book would be best for them to read.  

For your remaining assignment, I would like you to pick a podcast from her list here.  She has two series, one on Dare to Lead and one called Unlocking Us.  Pick whatever podcast appeals to you. Listen to it (or read the transcript if you prefer, she has transcripts for all of her podcasts).  They are all about an hour long.  Once you finish the podcast, write a summary of it to the slack board.  Explain which one you picked, why you picked that one, what you learned, and how it will help you to be a more daring leader for class and for life.

Submit your grading declaration

OU students should log onto canvas and complete the grading declaration titled “Module 1: Daring Leadership and Vulnerability.”