Happy Computer Science Education Week! This year’s theme is #CSHeroes, calling attention to the #ImpactsofComputing and recognizing those whose work has harnessed the good in computer science. In honor of #CSEdWeek 2023, we’ve rounded up a list of three excellent humans who have used computer science to change the world for the better.
As one of the first female computer scientists, Grace Hopper pioneered the development of computer programming languages. Her work on developing COBOL in the 1950s and 60s helped shape how we write software to this day.
Beyond her technical achievements, Hopper devoted herself to increasing diversity in tech. She mentored young women entering the field and worked to make programming languages more accessible to beginners. Hopper brought humanity and compassion to a male-dominated arena.
Hopper believed in the potential of computers. “I think we consistently…underestimate what we can do with computers if we really try,” she once said.
Anil Dash has been on the front lines calling for ethical practices in Silicon Valley. As a tech entrepreneur and prolific blogger, he combines an insider's knowledge with an outsider's conscience.
Dash warns about tech addiction and manipulation, internet harms impacting vulnerable groups, and the need for thoughtful regulation. But he also highlights positive uses of technology for education, healthcare, and human rights. By bringing nuance to complex issues, Dash advances thoughtful dialogue on technology's place in society.
As an MIT grad student, Joy Buolamwini discovered facial recognition software performed poorly on darker female faces like her own. Her research exposed coded biases that excluded people of color and women.
In response, Buolamwini founded the Algorithmic Justice League. It combines art and research to promote equitable and accountable artificial intelligence. By boldly speaking truth to power, Buolamwini is ensuring artificial intelligence respects the dignity and diversity of all people. She embodies the heroic spirit computer science needs.
In an era of rapid technological change, we need heroes like Hopper, Dash, and Buolamwini who harness the tremendous good in technology while also providing an ethical compass. Their leadership lights the way forward for future generations of computer scientists to build technologies that elevate our humanity.