Human Contexts and Ethics

The Human Contexts and Ethics (HCE) program is a community of students and faculty examining the dynamics of technology development and human life in a datafied world.

HCE education explores how human, social, and institutional structures and practices shape technical work around computing and data, as well as how data, data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computing permeate and shape our individual and social lives.

The HCE curriculum teaches students structured forms of academic inquiry from the humanities and interpretive social sciences.

It engages students in reflection, writing, analysis, project work, and practice to surface critical questions of individual or societal responsibility and to support making reasoned ethical choices in complex situations at the intersection of technology and society.

In addition to offering dedicated HCE courses, we also integrate HCE approaches and Toolkit in a variety of data science, computer science, and humanities and social science courses.

Recent News

2020 HCE Undergrad Essay Prize

Winners of the 2020 HCE Prize announced! The Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society held this year an inaugural competition for UC Berkeley undergraduates doing independent, original research on social, cultural, historical, policy, or ethical issues at the intersection of data science, technology and society.

National Award to Help UC Berkeley Expand Responsible Data Science and Computer Science Curriculum

The Responsible Computer Science Challenge, an ambitious $3.5 million initiative, has chosen UC Berkeley as one of its inaugural awardees. The award will support UC Berkeley faculty and students in computer science, social science, and humanities to develop and scale Berkeley’s groundbreaking ethics curriculum for data science and computer science.

Cultivating Inclusion in Tech

On Friday March 8, International Women’s Day, women from a range of backgrounds came together for a symposium at UC Berkeley to highlight the experience of women in tech, particularly the growing field of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Deploying Data for Good

Last semester, UC Berkeley seniors Mansi Shah and Samson Mataraso created a DeCal class to provide their peers with hands-on exposure to the human side of data science. They see the class, “Exploring Data Science & Social Good,” and others like it as opportunities to build understanding around data and its transformative power—for better as well as for worse.

Realizing the Promise of Precision Medicine for All Requires the Data of All

Ashley Chopra, a 4th year Molecular and Cell Biology major and pre-med student explores essential elements to fully realizing the potential of precision medicine—ethical data collection practices and data from individuals from all backgrounds. Ashley explored the topic as part of the course Human Contexts and Ethics of Data (HCE), which explores how people, social structures, and practices shape and are shaped by the use of data.

Enabling Safe, Fair, and Free Speech…at Scale

If Jane Austen ran an internet platform, what would it look like? That’s how Alex Feerst, the Head of the Legal team at Medium (link is external), opened a recent Human Contexts and Ethics Conversation on moderating online content. The conversation, which took place just before the 2016 mid-term elections, was organized by the UC Berkeley Division of Data Sciences to build on student discussions in the Human Contexts and Ethics of Data (link is external) class about public spheres and democracy in the datafied world.