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Paula Goldman, global lead for Omidyar Network’s Tech and Society Solutions Lab. Photo: Omidyar Network

A new initiative, backed by the foundations of Pierre Omidyar, Eric Schmidt, Craig Newmark and Mozilla, aims to convince the nation's computer science departments to spend more time teaching the ethics of the profession alongside the basics of coding.

Why it matters: Computers are increasingly tied to every aspect of modern life, placing cameras in our bedroom, deciding who gets credit, and recording our every digital footprint. It's time for those who program computers to fully understand the implications of their work, according to the backers of the initiative.

Details: In addition to those funding the project, the Responsible Computer Science Challenge effort also has the backing of a ton of prominent techies, including Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger, Lyft president John Zimmer and former U.S. chief data scientist DJ Patil.

  • It aims to award $3.5 million over the next year and a half to help spur new ideas of how to integrate ethics into computer science curricula.

Background: Ethics is often treated as a secondary issue, if addressed at all, in computer science classes, says Paula Goldman, global lead for Omidyar Network’s Tech and Society Solutions Lab.

  • "It’s an elective," Goldman said, "It’s not seen as core. It's seen as someone else's problem."

The bottom line: Half the technical talent in big Silicon Valley companies is drawn from the top 20 computer science departments in the U.S. That's a problem in some ways. But, in this case, it makes it easier for a project like this to make a quick impact.

Go deeper

CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers

Rochelle Walensky listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C. on July 20. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky on Friday reiterated her decision to go against a recommendation by a CDC advisory panel that refused to endorse booster shots for workers whose jobs put them at high risk for contracting covid.

Driving the news: "Our healthcare systems are once again at maximum capacity in parts of the country, our teachers are facing uncertainty as they walk into the classroom," Walensky said at a Friday briefing. "I must do what I can to preserve the health across our nation."

Democrats release full text of Biden's $3.5T reconciliation package

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday unveiled the full text of President Biden's $3.5 trillion social spending package.

Why it matters: Democrats are racing to finish negotiations and get the bill on the floor as soon as possible so Pelosi can fulfill her promises to both House centrists and progressives about the timing and sequencing of passing the party's dual infrastructure packages.

Biden pushes massive economic plan despite "stalemate"

President Biden speaking from the White House on Sept. 24. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Friday urged congressional Democrats to overcome differences surrounding his multi-trillion-dollar economic proposal but said he's still confident it will pass.

Why it matters: It's currently unclear how the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package will move forward with moderate and progressive Democrats in disagreement over critical portions of the legislation.