Data ethics is more than just what we do with data, it’s also about who’s doing it

If the recent Cambridge Analytica data scandal has taught us anything, it’s that the ethical cultures of our largest tech firms need tougher scrutiny.

But moral questions about what data should be collected and how it should be used are only the beginning. They raise broader questions about who gets to make those decisions in the first place.

We currently have a system in which power over the judicious and ethical use of data is overwhelmingly concentrated among white men. Research shows that the unconscious biases that emerge from a person’s upbringing and experiences can be baked into technology, resulting in negative consequences for minority groups.

These biases are difficult to shed, which makes workplace diversity a powerful and necessary tool for catching unsuspected bias before it has a chance to cause damage. As the impact of data-driven algorithms and decisions grows more profound, we need to ask: how is this going to change in the future?

Unfortunately, the indicators suggest the answer is: not much. Read more

James Arvantitakis et al. – Smart Company – 22 June 2018