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Algorithms increasingly become important on the workplace. Everyone knows about their application in bureaucracies and criminal investigation. But also in Medicine, Mental Healthcare, in the Courtroom, Education and many other domains their application is just around the corner, or has already started. Given their clear advantages (they are fast, cheap and don’t suffer from bad moods) it is widely recognized that they not only support the execution of tasks but also take over activities that until recently were supposed to be exclusively human.

But the nagging question rises how far the application of algorithms can go. In this course we focus on two core problems:

  • What is the influence of algorithms on core values like trust, responsibility, transparency?
  • Are final decisions about the ultimate goals still taken by humans, or do algorithms also influence these? If the latter is the case, why should we regret it?

Answers to these questions differ from domain to domain; we will only be able to address a few domains. In any case education and art, but the focus will also be dependent on the background of the students.

Group assignment

For the group assignment, the group will be split up into 3 or 4 subgroups. Each group will write a paper and prepare a presentation on how the use of algorithms influences the work of professionals in a specific domain. Groups are free to choose their domain.


To be announced


Dr. Marcel Becker(Associate Professor department Ethics and Social Political Philosophy)
Casper Kirkels (Radboud Honours Academy)


The meetings will take place on Wednesday evenings from 18.30 until 21.00.
(Note: the first meeting starts at 17.30 with sandwiches and soup)

After two introductory lectures we discuss the application of algorithms in several domains. In the final part of the course students elaborate on a domain they have chosen.

1. Introduction (discussion and lecture) – 28 September

We start with professional values. Why are they important? Are there differences between groups? Do the values strengthen the quality of professional work, or are they annoying obstacles?

2. Guest lecture – 5 October

Algorithms, what are we talking about?

3. Lecture and discussion – 12 October

Digitalization in education

We start with the most familiar topic, our own ‘business’. Digitalization has influenced teacher-student interaction in many ways. Several digital tools just facilitate communication (Brightspace), others deeply intervene in the education process (zoom lectures, streaming of lectures). After two zoom-years, what can we say about the merits and disadvantages?

4. Lecture and discussion - 19 October

Digitalisation in art

Artists not only use digital techniques, they can also outsource their creativity to digital tools. Digital machines create music that cannot be distinguished from ‘real Bach and Mozart’. They make paintings in Rembrandt style. Is this an improvement? Will these developments lead to changed conceptions of art?

At the end of the lecture the group is split into 3 or 4 subgroups, and you will start working on the group assignment.

5. Work session - 9 November

Presentation proposals

Each group presents first ideas about the domain it is working on, preferably by presenting core questions. The group receives feedback from the other students.

6Work session – 16 November

Workshop – Interdisciplinary research (Casper Kirkels)
Working on group assignment

7. Work session – 23 November

Students work in subgroups and receive feedback from the teacher.

8. Work session 30 November

Students work in subgroups and receive feedback from the teacher.

9. Work session – 7 December

Students work in subgroups and receive feedback from the teacher.

10. Presentations – 14 December

Each sub-group presents the final results.