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AI & Ethics


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


Ethics is the academic field dealing with the question of what's right and what's wrong. Ethics is relevant for AI in three ways:
1. How to make AI systems that behave rightly? (This is particularly relevant for autonomous systems such as self-driving cars and self-shooting weapons.)
2. How to behave rightly as a professional in the field of AI and/or data science? (This is particularly relevant for you – students.)
3. What to think of numerous changes and developments caused by AI – are they right or wrong? (Like some of the questions beneath.)

All three aspects of AI & ethics will be discussed in this course, but the main part is about the third bullet: What to think of new possibilities, enabled by AI? Examples of such issues include:

  • What if there would be intelligent surveillance cameras everywhere?

  • Is it okay to use a chatbot for writing an assignment?

  • Who is to blame for discrimination by AI?

  • Will AI cause mass unemployment?

  • When do you trust an autonomous killer weapon?

This is a relatively practical course: the aim is to help you to deal with ethical issues that you can encounter later in your career. (In contrast to a more academic course that deals with abstract ideas about AI & ethics.) It's also supposed to be pleasant course for students. (Ethics itself is serious enough.) So besides more formal content from textbooks, we will use concrete and interesting cases from e.g. movies, documentaries, novels etc.

Course objectives

After the course students should / should be able to:
1. Know the various schools in ethics.
2. Know various possible ethical issues in AI.
3. Understand the relation between ethics & science.
4. Apply ethical theory to numerous cases in AI.
5. Reason academically on ethical issues.
6. Reflect on ones academic responsibilities.
7. Critcally reflect on the role of values in academics.
8. Formulate own opinions and provide argumentation.


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudymap will automatically be displayed in MyTimetable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Pleas note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Each week the following pattern repeats:
1. Students are informally introduced in the content of the week in an oral lecture.
2. Students get a deeper understanding by reading texts.
3. Students apply their knowledge in a tutorial.
4. Students make the content "their own" by writing a text. (This happens every other week.)

Assessment method

  • Each week there is a short ANS test, to check if students read the reading material.

  • Attendance to the tutorials is obligatory.

  • Students write two short columns (of about 500 words) during the course, and a larger essay (of about 1000 words) at the end of it.

  • And finally, the students end the course with a written exam.

The ANS tests are not graded; these tests are just a condition to pass the course. At the end of the course a student should have answered at least half the questions correctly. If not, the student should do a short additional test, right before the regular exam. In case of a deficiency (missing too many tutorials or a fail), the teacher will make a custom additional assignment. The size of this assignment depends on the number of deficiencies. (A student may miss one tutorial.)

Moreover, the teacher is entitled to invite students for a short discussion about their writings, if that seems appropriate. And finally the teacher will inform the students how the inspection of and follow-up discussion of the exams will take place.

Reading list

Reading material is published on BrightSpace.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudymap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to register for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course.

Extensive FAQ on MyStudymap can be found here.


Lecturer: Prof.dr. Bas Haring. Please use WhatsApp for contact the teacher; details are provided in the course instructions on BrightSpace.

Education coordinator LIACS bachelors.


Not applicable.