Big Data, AI, and Ethics



Digital technology has already revolutionised our lives and shows no signs of stopping. Algorithms are everywhere. AI powered by our data are increasingly shaping our lives. The implementation of this technology has leapt ahead of our understanding of its ethical, societal, legal, and political significance. Lawmakers and ethical thinkers are playing catch up. From self-driving cars to autonomous weapons, data brokers to the Metaverse, no aspects of our lives will be the same again.

In this class, we shall learn about, and discuss, cutting-edge work from both within and outside academic moral philosophy and legal scholarship concerning the challenges posed by the ever-increasing use of AI. We ask questions such as:

  • Do tech companies violate our right to privacy when they harvest our data through their products?
  • Is it morally objectionable for them to use this data to nudge us into interacting more profitably with their platforms?
  • Can automated algorithmic decision-making deliver us a future free of human-bias? Or will they simply reproduce the status quo?
  • And what, if anything, should we do about all this? Is government legislation appropriate? If so, what should these regulations look like?

What Topics will you Cover?

The projected schedule for the class is as follows:

  1. An Introduction to Moral Philosophy and the Ethics of AI
    • 1.1 Introduction
    • 1.2. A Taster – The Morality of Surveillance Capitalism: Nudging and the Right to Mental Autonomy
    • 1.3. An Introduction to Moral Philosophy
  2. Week 2: Self-Driving Cars and Algorithmic Bias – Two cases studies in Ethics and Regulation
    • 2.1. The Ethics and Regulation of Self-Driving Cars
    • 2.2. Algorithmic Bias and Discrimination
    • 2.3. The GDPR and the Right to Explanation
  3. Week 3: Privacy, Free Speech, and Political Philosophy
    • 3.1. An Introduction to Political Philosophy
    • 3.2. Surveillance and Privacy Rights
    • 3.3. Free Speech on the Internet
  4. Week 4: Automation and Virtual Worlds
    • 4.1. A.I. Automation and the Workforce
    • 4.2. The Metaverse, Virtual Worlds, and the Meaningfulness of Life
  5. Week 5: A.I. Safety and the Singularity
    • 5.1. Autonomous Weapons
    • 5.2. The Singularity
  6. Week 6: A.I., Autonomy, and Rights
    • 6.1. Robot Rights? Ethics and Future Regulations
    • 6.2. Artificial Moral Advisors

Who is this Course for?

Participants are often working in the IT, finance, and banking sectors.

Students who complete the CPD programme will learn foundational ideas and theories from moral and political philosophy. As such, they will be equipped with the skills necessary for thinking critically and impartially about the moral and legal challenges raised by the ever-increasing use of AI and data in new technologies.

Who Teaches the Course?

Dr. William Ratoff earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University before joining the Department of Philosophy and Program in Cognitive Science at Dartmouth College as a Postdoctoral Research Scholar, where he taught classes on the ethics of AI and new technology. He joined the Department of Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin as an Assistant Professor in January 2022.

Dr. Ratoff’s research interests centre on moral philosophy and the philosophy of mind and cognitive science. His current research projects concern various issues in the ethics and regulation of artificial intelligence and novel technologies. He loves teaching and is a major proponent of active learning in the classroom.

Time, Date, and Place

The CPD is delivered via online webinar over six weeks with two two-hour sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays (6pm-8pm) and one hour of asynchronous material. This will be preceded by two hours of preparatory online instruction.

The course will commence on Monday 22nd April and will conclude on Monday 30th May.

In order to be awarded the Certificate of Completion for Big Data, AI, & Ethics, participants will need to have completed all required CPD exercises.

For more information, download our brochure:

School of Social Sciences and Philosophy CPD brochure 2024

Big Data, AI, and Ethics

How should we negotiate the ethical challenges raised by social data? One of six new in-person CPD courses offered by the School of Social Sciences & Philosophy. Speaker: Dr. William Ratoff

Admission Requirements

Participants should also have access to a laptop with camera and a microphone.

Course Fees



Registration for this CPD closes on Monday 15th April.

Places are limited as class sizes are small, with up to 30 per class, so enroll as soon as possible to secure your place on the course.

You can enroll on the course directly via the PayPal link below. The course fee includes access to the course materials via Blackboard (Trinity’s virtual learning environment) for the duration of the course. Participation in this CPD course does not include access to the Trinity Library or any other student services (including a student identity card).

For employers wishing to pay for employees' registration via invoice, please contact

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Big Data, AI, and Ethics - €1,500

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Get in Touch

Please contact sspcpd@tcd.iefor further details about applying for the module.

For further details about the content of the module, you can contact the module lecturer, Dr. William Ratoff, at

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Register your interest at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin.

As Ireland’s leading university, we offer a wide range of postgraduate programmes at masters, diploma and certificate level.

Trinity is an international university steeped in history, with a reputation for excellence in education, research and innovation.

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