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Monday, November 6, 2017

Is It Too Late For Big Data Ethics?

Kalev Leetaru
Originally published October 16, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

AI researchers are rushing to create the first glimmers of general AI and hoping for the key breakthroughs that take us towards a world in which machines gain consciousness. The structure of academic IRBs means that little of this work is subject to ethical review of any kind and its highly technical nature means the general public is little aware of the rapid pace of progress until it comes into direct life-or-death contact with consumers such as driverless cars.

Could industry-backed initiatives like one announced by Bloomberg last month in partnership with BrightHive and Data for Democracy be the answer? It all depends on whether companies and organizations actively infuse these values into the work they perform and sponsor or whether these are merely public relations campaigns for them. As I wrote last month, when I asked the organizers of a recent data mining workshop as to why they did not require ethical review or replication datasets for their submissions, one of the organizers, a Bloomberg data scientist, responded only that the majority of other ACM computer science conferences don’t either. When asked why she and her co-organizers didn’t take a stand with their own workshop to require IRB review and replication datasets even if those other conferences did not, in an attempt to start a trend in the field, she would only repeat that such requirements are not common to their field. When asked whether Bloomberg would be requiring its own data scientists to adhere to its new data ethics initiative and/or mandate that they integrate its principles into external academic workshops they help organize, a company spokesperson said they would try to offer comment, but had nothing further to add after nearly a week.

The article is here.
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