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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Media Mentions

A selection of articles, op-eds, TV segments, and other media featuring Center staff.


Dr. Robert Redfield Jr., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is photographed at the agency's headquarters in Atlanta, Thursday, June 28, 2018

Opinion: Ignore CDC’s new, unscientific COVID-19 testing guidelines

"We should be doing more testing, not less. Accumulating data shows that relying only on symptoms to detect COVID-19 infections will miss up to 40% of cases — maybe more in younger groups such as college students. There is strong epidemiological evidence, reviewed in the CDC’s own journal Emerging Infectious Diseases in July, that asymptomatically infected people can transmit the virus to others. Indeed, even people who eventually develop symptoms typically have high levels of virus days before symptoms appear."

Craig Stephens, the Sanfilippo Family Professor of biology and public health; Katherine Saxton, associate professor of biology and director of the public health program; and Margaret R. McLean, associate director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, recommend ignoring the controversial — and scientifically unfounded — piece of guidance recently put forth by the CDC in their opinion article published in The Mercury News.

David Goldman/Associated Press

Google's chief executive Sundar Pichai addresses the audience during an event on artificial intelligence at the Square in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.

Google Offers to Help Others With the Tricky Ethics of AI

Another challenge is that a company seeking to make money from AI may not be the best moral mentor on curbing the technology, says Brian Green, director of technology ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “They’re legally compelled to make money and while ethics can be compatible with that, it might also cause some decisions not to go in the most ethical direction,” he says.

Brian Green, director of Technology Ethics, quoted in WIRED.

Virginia Mayo/Associated Press

Sheriff Alex Villanueva

L.A. County CEO to Receive $1.5 Million and Security in Settlement over Alleged Harassment by Sheriff

“It struck me as a way to try and affect his behavior, so he stops this public retaliatory commentary that does actually seem to be a pattern of his, and at least based on what I could find, seems to be primarily aimed at women,” said Ann Skeet, senior director of leadership ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

Ann Skeet, senior director of Leadership Ethics, quoted in the Los Angeles Times.

Stefanie Dazio/Associated Press

Palantir Technologies CEO, Alexander Karp

Palantir Takes Swings at Silicon Valley on its way to Wall Street

Irina Raicu, the director of internet ethics at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, told MarketWatch on Tuesday that Karp’s letter “includes some very old (and repeatedly debunked) Silicon Valley tropes,” and pushed back against three specific points the CEO made.

In response to Karp’s claim that Americans will not “remain tolerant of the idiosyncrasies and excesses of the Valley,” Raicu said that Americans have not been tolerant of the Valley’s actions for years, adding “Surely Palantir has crunched enough data to be aware of that.”

As to Karp’s statement that Palantir has “chosen sides” between Silicon Valley and the government, Raicu said Palantir’s “clients in law enforcement and intelligence agencies do not represent a different ‘side’ from the American public.” 

Irina Raicu, director of Internet Ethics, quoted in MarketWatch.

Francois Mori/Associated Press

Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, the president of Brigham and Women’s hospital

Hospitals Need a Stronger Prescription for Keeping the Public’s Trust

“A physician leader is different than another leader,” said Dr. Charles Binkley, director of bioethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “A hospital leader has different moral obligations.” It’s impossible to meet those moral obligations, said Binkley, when you are also a board member “with a fiduciary responsibility to propel the profits of a company” — not to mention the opportunity to enrich yourself from those company profits.

For employees, said Binkley, “What people see is a physician leader making a lot of money ... while freezing and cutting salaries at their institution. Meanwhile, a patient may rightly wonder, ‘Is what I’m being prescribed, treated with, benefiting me or the person prescribing it?‘”

Charles Binkley, director of Bioethics quoted in the The Boston Globe.

Elise Amendola/AP Photos

Exide Technologies battery recycling plant in Vernon, Calif

New Questions Plague State’s Slow-Motion Exide Cleanup

“Every Californian should be outraged at this story,” said Ann Skeet, senior director of leadership ethics at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, about the Exide cleanup in general. “It’s our money that we’re paying in to be spent responsibly, and it’s not being used to take care of the people who have been harmed here.”

Ann Skeet, senior director of Leadership Ethics, quoted in Capital & Main.

Nick Ut/AP Photos

woman at table containing an open laptop, mouse, pen, and houseplant

Productivity And Privacy: The Case Against Remote Employee Tracking Tools

"In the U.S., the pandemic has driven many of us—the lucky ones—to working from home; this is likely to continue for some time. Amid this new reality, and in the name of maintaining productivity, many companies are deploying tools to track their remote employees’ online habits... However, indiscriminate deployment of tracking tools would create a surveillance work culture that is likely to cause significant harm, while at the same time failing to deliver the results that business leaders expect."
Irina Raicu, director of Internet Ethics, published in the Forbes CIO Newsletter.
Republican candidate for the 49th Congressional District, speaks during the California GOP fall convention on Sept. 7, 2019, in Indian Wells, Calif.

Brian Maryott, GOP Rival to Rep. Levin, Fends Off Democratic Claims of Ethics Violations

Joan Harrington, director of social sector ethics at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, reviewed the critique and Maryott’s responses.

Harrington said the Wells Fargo matter didn’t rise to the level of impropriety.

“He did what he normally would do as a mayor,” she said, assuming he described the case accurately. “If he reached out to another bank, we would not call this an ethical violation and when he called he didn’t ask … for special attention or using the relationship in a special way.”

Harrington saw irony in the accusation about Maryott’s use of personal email to conduct city business.

The reason governments insist on employees using their official email is so the public can access such records.

But like Ivanka Trump and Hillary Clinton, Maryott often combined official emails with personal accounts, Harrington noted.

“So that’s where I’m not seeing a problem — because … it’s not hidden from us,” she said. The public record is thus “transparent.” She struggled to think how this “damages the public.”

“You need people looking,” Harrington said. “It’s a little too charged right now in America. But it’s not a bad thing to have people inquiring about the ethics and the behavior of political officials.”

Joan Harrington, director of Social Sector Ethics, quoted in the Times of San Diego

Associated Press/Chris Carlson

a black iphone with apps

Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple Are Testifying Before Congress at Antitrust Hearings Today

"Critics have pointed out that they're being reactive," Raicu said. "But they're trying to deal with problems that arise, and at the same time, we want them to look ahead and anticipate problems. And that's not easy given the size of these companies and the scale of these platforms."

It's "not about whether they're going to make the right call every time, because obviously they won't," Raicu said. "But the question is, if they turn out to have been mistaken, how quickly do they recognize that? How do they respond ethically when it turns out that they've caused harm in the world?"

 Irina Raicu, director of Internet Ethics, quoted on

William Hook/Unsplash

silhouette of five business people with world map image in the background

How to Fight Against Big Tech’s Power

“You have to read and be informed,” said Don Heider, chief executive of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “Otherwise, you’re not going to have a clue of where to go and what to pick and what the impact is.”

Mr. Heider pointed to a few examples: Instead of Google Chrome, people can download great browsers, including DuckDuckGoBrave and Opera, which focus on stronger privacy and security protections. Instead of Facebook, we can tell our friends to hang out with us on social media apps like Vero and Mastodon, which are both ad-free, he said.

Don Heider, executive director, quoted in The New York Times.