Data Ethics is a capacity.

Here are some resources to help you advance your personal understanding of data ethics and ethical AI. We believe that any increase in data ethics literacy has a positive impact on the world. Be warned! Reading three blog articles will not give you the tools you need to insulate your company from ethical risk.

Published Articles
& Industry Contributions

10-09-2020 | National Center for Biotechnology

High Tech, High Risk: Ethics Lessons for COVID 19 pandemic

The paper provides a nuanced understanding of the concept of risk in the context of AI and machine learning ethics. Those seeking to understand and manage the risks that AI and machine learning pose within their companies and society will benefit from this detailed analysis.s

09-23-2020 | Data & Society

"Ethics Owners"

“Ethics owners” face a variety of tensions when working within technology companies. While technologies are usually designed to address problems at scale, ethics issues are highly context specific.

11-14-2019 | Harvard Business Review

The Ethical Dilemma at the Heart of Big Tech Companies

Those tasked with guiding ethical practices at tech companies (ethics owners) often face a difficult tension in their work. The central challenge ethics owners must grapple with is negotiating between external pressures to respond to ethical crises while at the same time being responsive to the internal logics of their companies and the industry.

04-29-2020 | Points by Data & Society

"Ethics is too big a word"

Ethical processes, ethical outcomes and ethical values present distinct meanings of the word “ethical” in the context of technology. Going beyond compliance to understand how ethical practices are implemented within companies will be critical for anyone looking to improve ethical outcomes for their company.

09-24-2019 | Points by Data & Society

"Unpacking Ethical AI"

This post provides a helpful reading list for those looking to better understand the history of ethics in artificial intelligence and machine learning. If you are interested in exploring ethical AI more deeply, these resources provide guide posts to clearer understanding.

05-28-2020 | Social Science Research Network

Governing with Algorithmic Impact Assessments: Six Observations

Algorithmic impact assessments are emerging as a key mechanism for understanding and addressing the risks posed by AI and machine learning technologies. Remain up-to-date on the newest scholarship in AI and machine learning ethics.

Get help applying data ethics insights to your context.

The ER Team Blog

Build to solve values problems, not just technical problems


Watch Ethical Resolve founder Jake Metcalf’s talk at the 2018 Unintended Consequences of Technology (#UCOT) conference in San Francisco. The central theme of the talk is that organizations should be investing in the capacity to make values decisions, which is a different problem than addressing the technical components of algorithmic tools.

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Katapult Future Fest


Ethical Resolve’s founders Jake Metcalf and Ben Roome will be presenting at the 2018 Katapult Future Fest in Oslo.

You can find us here discussing how to raise responsible AI, with some key lessons we have learned from working with our clients:

Tuesday, May 15 (KFF Day 1)
Start time: 4:40 pm
Location: Ardna

We will also be on a moderated panel about AI ethics at this time:

Wednesday, May 16 (KFF Day 2)
Start time: 12:00 pm
Location: Sirkus.

Watch the Talk

Sage Assembly 2018


Ethical Resolve Founder Jake Metcalf will be presenting at the 2018 Sage Assembly on the topic of “What is it like to be a data subject?” This Out in the City Workshop hosted at Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats, will discuss the ways that predictive analytics alters our subjectivity—what we care about, how we relate to others, and how we experience our own selfhood. Below is a preview of some of the material, illustrating how the economy of prediction often hides the true value of personal data from the data subject.

“Gayface AI” & the challenges of tracking downstream consequences of AI


Many of the tools, concepts and infrastructures that we have built for understanding the ethics of science and engineering do not readily apply to data technologies, such as machine learning and AI. A common misperception among data scientists is that if an IRB has signed off on a research study then it is “ethical” to conduct the study. However, IRB’s are bound by specific laws that circumscribe the issues they are allowed to examine, meaning that many of the legitimate concerns about data science and technologies go untracked and unregulated.

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Privacy and dignity in information technologies for disabled citizens


When technology companies and governments collaborate on the production of technologies that affect citizens lives, how should they account for the well-being and needs of the citizens? What if those citizens are already vulnerable and subject to increased surveillance? It is paramount that in such cases design decisions are made carefully and in consultation with stakeholders.

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"Twelve Principles of Data Ethics"


Ethical Resolve has helped author Accenture’s newly released Data Ethics report, and in particular took the lead role in writing the section Developing a Code of Data Ethics. Steven Tiell and I hashed these out with the assistance of multiple contributors. The full report is available here.

These 12 universal principles of data ethics are intended to help enterprises and professional communities develop tailored codes of ethics to guide responsible data use. Let us know if your organization needs assistance instantiating these principles.

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Avanade’s TechSummit 2016 panel on digital ethics


I recently had the honor of participating on a panel at Avanade’s annual TechSummit conference. Organized by Steven Tiell of Accenture’s TechVision team, we were tasked with discussing the role of digital ethics and digital trust in enterprise. I joined Steven on stage with Bill Hoffman, Associate Director of the World Economic Forum and Scott David, Director of Policy at the University of Washington Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity. Below are my prepared remarks, which of course differ extensively from what I actually got around to saying on stage.

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Keynote presentation at Cambridge data ethics workshop


On 10 June, 2016, I will be giving a keynote talk at the Data Ethics Workshop, hosted by the Center for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge University in the UK. I look forward to meeting some of the great thinkers in this field from the other side of the pond, and learning more about the different data ethics landscape in the EU.

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New academic paper on human-subjects research and data ethics


Ethical Resolve’s Jake Metcalf has a new article co-authored with Kate Crawford about the strained relationship between familiar norms and policies of research ethics and the research methods of data analytics. It is available in pre-publication form on the open access Social Science Research Network, and will soon be available at the peer-reviewed journal Big Data & Society.

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Implications of the Common Rule revisions for private enterprise


Through my position with the Council for Big Data, Ethics and Society, I recently lead the drafting of a collective public comment on the proposed revisions to the Common Rule, the federal regulation that requires federally funded research projects to receive independent, prior ethics review. The proposed revisions—the first in three decades—are largely a response to the rise of big data analytics in scientific research. Although the changes to biomedical research have received the most public attention, there are some important lessons to take home for any company utilizing data analytics.

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Getting the formula right: Social trust, A/B testing and research ethics


Most Internet services, and especially social media services, routinely conduct experiments on users’ experiences even though few of us are aware of it and consent procedures are murky. In a recent New York Times op-ed Michelle Meyer and Christopher Chabris argue that we should enthusiastically embrace the model of experimentation on users called “A/B testing.” This type of data-intensive experimentation is the bread and butter of the Internet economy and now is at the heart of sprawling ethical dispute over whether experimenting on Internet users’ data is equivalent to human experimentation on legal, ethical or regulatory grounds.

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Skynet starts with data mining: thinking through the ethics of AI


I was recently interviewed by John C. Havens at Mashable about the creation of data ethics and AI ethics committees.

The ethics of artificial intelligence is becoming a much more concrete public discussion, particularly with the recent open letter advocating for a ban on autonomous weapons systems. The letter, organized by the Future of Life Institute and signed by 10,000 plus people, including many AI researchers and prominent tech leaders, advocates for an international ban on autonomous weapons systems that can operate without meaningful human input.

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How is the Drone Industry Handling Privacy?


When it comes to privacy, the drone industry is not clear for takeoff.

Despite being a relatively small event, the Drones, Data X Conference in Santa Cruz last month painted a large canvas of the current state of affairs in the world of UAV technology. The audience heard from industry leaders in business and government, as well as being able to interact with a large number of drone enthusiasts and hobbyists. These two groups have completely different views of the world of drone flight.

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Beyond Privacy


This series of blog posts will address existing and emergent concerns about ethics in the education technology market. The goal of this series is to help technology entrepreneurs begin to think through and respond to the risks their companies face with regard to ethical challenges. Failure to develop an effective and clear ethics policy has destroyed multi-million dollar companies, and will do so again in the future.

Too often, entrepreneurs think that they can wait to respond to ethical concerns until after their product has become successful. We have observed over and over again that the most successful products are designed with the ethical use of that product in mind. These posts will encourage readers to consider how successes and failures in the technology market can be understood in terms of ethical approach.

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Creating Ethical Resolve


Having ethical resolve in some ways is as straightforward as having a commitment to acting with integrity and responsibility. In practice, however, having true ethical resolve is examining ethical decisions as an ongoing, informed and engaged process. So a commitment to ethical responsibility and integrity is not coming to a single ‘stance’, as mission statements have us believe, or coming to a single ‘solution’ to a particular issue but a re-solving process that must be a part of how a responsible and effective company functions.

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