4.2 Identify and adressing ethical issues

No system is perfect, but we need to address critical issues as early as possible.

Steps to address ethical issues

  • Analyze a planned project
  • Implement processes at your company to find and address ethical risks.
  • Increase diversity.

4.2.1 Analyze a planned project

Rachel Thomas recommends considering the following questions throughout the development of a data project:

Recommended questions:

  • Should we even be doing this?
  • What bias is in the data?
  • Can the code and data be audited?
  • What are the error rates for different subgroups?
  • What is the accuracy of a simple rule-based alternative?
  • What processes are in place to handle appeals or mistakes?
  • How diverse is the team that built it?

When answering those questions one needs to consider also how data can be misused in the future.

4.2.2 Process to implement

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics has released an Ethical Toolkit for Engineering/Design Practice. The toolkit includes seven tools

This toolkit includes seven tools:

  • Tool 1: Ethical Risk Sweeping
  • Tool 2: Ethical Pre-mortems and Post-mortems
  • Tool 3: Expanding the Ethical Circle
  • Tool 4: Case-based Analysis
  • Tool 5: Remembering the Ethical Benefits of Creative Work
  • Tool 6: Think About the Terrible People
  • Tool 7: Closing the Loop: Ethical Feedback and Iteration

For details about the tools check Markkula Center’s web pages https://www.scu.edu/ethics-in-technology-practice/ethical-toolkit/

4.2.3 Diversity

A diverse team in terms of:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Experience
  • Education

helps to identify issues and find solutions which might have not found with a less diverse team.