• Class Number 8127
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • AsPr Seth Lazar
    • Stephen Mann
    • Pamela Robinson
    • Dr Chad Lee-Stronach
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/07/2019
  • Class End Date 25/10/2019
  • Census Date 31/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 29/07/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course offers an advanced approach to ethics or social and political philosophy, suitable for students who have a background in this area and who may be interested in continuing into 4th year Honours. What is taught will change from year to year.


An example of a course topic, taught by A/Prof Seth Lazar, Mr Stephen Mann, and members of the Humanising Machine Intelligence grand challenge team (hmi.anu.edu.au):

The Moral and Political Philosophy of AI introduces students to ethical and legal questions surrounding the development and use of digital technologies. Recent advances in artificial intelligence, big data and surveillance technology are explored in light of their relations to major questions in normative ethics. Due to the focus on contemporary and near-future moral problems, much of the literature concerns real-life cases of the use and abuse of AI. Philosophical literature will be paired with articles from computer science journals, popular science magazines and reportage in the form of news articles, podcasts and videos. 


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. demonstrate familiarity with the philosophical issues relating to ethics and justice as covered in the course;
  2. argue for a philosophical position related to the material covered in the course;
  3. display skill in writing research papers in philosophy; and
  4. discuss ideas verbally and to engage in interactive dialogue.

Research-Led Teaching

In S2 2019, the advanced ethics course will focus on the moral and political philosophy of artificial intelligence. It will be taught by A/Prof Seth Lazar, head of school of philosophy and project lead of the Humanising Machine Intelligence grand challenge (hmi.anu.edu.au), co-convened by Mr Stephen Mann, graduate student in philosophy, and supported by postdoctoral researchers from the HMI project. The course syllabus is being developed and more information will be made available in June 2019.

Required Resources

All relevant course materials will be made available on Wattle.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Verbal feedback in seminars
  • Written feedback on submitted essays
  • Feedback during the course convenor’s office hours

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to AI and Machine Learning
2 Equality 1: Statistical Discrimination
3 Equality 2: Accountability in Machine Learning Quiz
4 Power 1: Privacy and Surveillance
5 Power 2: Public and Corporate Policy Quiz
6 Group Projects 1: Case Studies Group Project
7 Malice 1: Manipulation, Disinformation, Deepfakes
8 Malice 2: The AI Arms Race
9 Autonomy 1: Vehicles and Weaponry Quiz
10 Autonomy 2: Reward Hacking and Value Alignment
11 Group Projects 2: Remedies Group Project
12 Review & Essay Workshop Group Project (responses) and Essay

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
3000 word essay 50 % 01/11/2019 15/11/2019 1,2,3
Group Projects 40 % 14/10/2019 28/10/2019 1,2,3,4
Class quizzes 10 % 21/10/2019 28/10/2019 1

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 01/11/2019
Return of Assessment: 15/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

3000 word essay

Words limits are inclusive of footnotes, exclusive of bibliography. Essay topics will be made available online. You may formulate your own essay topic, provided that it has been approved by a course convenor. Essays are to be submitted using the Turnitin link made available on the course website. 

You must use an established referencing style (e.g., Harvard) consistently throughout the essay. Your essay writing is expected to be both grammatically sound and stylistically appropriate. If you are having trouble in either regard, the Academic Skills and Learning Centre (ASLC) offers ANU students free and confidential help with their academic work: https://academicskills.anu.edu.au

Good philosophical essays are clear, concise, and critically examine the issue at hand. Helpful tips on writing a good philosophical essay will made available online.

The university takes academic dishonesty very seriously. Any student found forging, plagiarising, cheating or assisting others to cheat on any assignment will receive a failing grade. All students are expected to have familiarised themselves with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy: https://www.anu.edu.au/students/academic-skills/academic-integrity

Assessment criteria for essays

Please consult the following documents on the Wattle course site:

‘Assessment Criteria’

'Tips for Writing a Philosophy Essay’. 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 14/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Group Projects

The group project will span the entire semester and will be presented to the class in two parts (weeks 6 and 11).

Part One (week 6): Your group will present a case study to the class, selected from an approved list. The case studies will vary, but the goal of each will be to explore in further detail a set of empirical or policy topics raised by AI, and lay the foundations for a philosophical analysis of their moral and political implications.

Part Two (week 11): Your group will build on the foundations set out in Part One, offering a philosophical analysis of a key application of AI or associated policy area, suggesting remedies to potential ethical problems raised by the case study analysis. The presentation will include a recap of the case study. 

Although the project is developed and presented as a group, students will be assessed on their own individual contribution to group dialogue. Assessment is based on several criteria, which may include the following (a more detailed rubric will be provided when the projects begin):

  • Team presentation
  • An individual mini-essay (~1000 words)
  • Self reflection: contribution, responsibility and interaction
  • Peer review
  • Class observation/team participation

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 21/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1

Class quizzes

Class quizzes will take place in weeks 3, 5, and 9. They each take up to 30 minutes and count towards 5% of your grade, for a total of 10% (the worst result is ignored).

Regular quizzes ensure students keep up-to-date with the reading materials, and help to gauge progress throughout the semester.

Quizzes may be multiple choice, short (1-2 paragraph) answers to key questions, or a mixture of both. They will take place in class. Marks and comments will be returned within one week.

If a student cannot attend a class when a quiz is due to take place, they should contact the instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

AsPr Seth Lazar

Research Interests

AsPr Seth Lazar

Thursday 09:00 10:00
Stephen Mann

Research Interests

Stephen Mann

Tuesday 11:00 12:00
Pamela Robinson

Research Interests

Pamela Robinson

Dr Chad Lee-Stronach

Research Interests

Dr Chad Lee-Stronach

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions