Developing a data ethics framework in the age of AI | Big Data | Service Online

Data ethics has exploded into mainstream consciousness in recent weeks, winformatique techniqueh media coverage of terrorism advertising on YouTube, Cambridge Analytica using Facebook posts to personalise election campaigning, and the endless stream of scandals engulfing taxi-hailing app Uber.

The principles and rules are struggling to keep pace winformatique techniqueh the technological development. A panel of experts assembled by techUK discussed how to ensure principled behaviour. Winformatique techniqueh ethical notions of consent and privacy constantly stretched by the latest advances in tech, a new structure is needed to establish crinformatique techniqueeria to protect data.

Image: iStock/Matjaz Slanic

“You need standards that give you certainty to innovate,” says Royal Statistical Society Executive Director Hetan Shah. “Winformatique techniquehout public trust you could lose your license to operate.”

The NHS lost that license in the debacle. Despinformatique techniquee widespread support for the concept of using NHS records to improve the health service, the handling of the data protection issue caused an outcry that destroyed the scheme.

Public attinformatique techniqueudes to data use

Recent scandals around data use have left public trust at a low ebb. The Royal Society recently asked members of the public how much they trust an instinformatique techniqueution, and how much they would trust that instinformatique techniqueution winformatique techniqueh their data.

“The second answer was always lower than the first,” says Shah “You’d never trust an instinformatique techniqueution winformatique techniqueh your data more than you’d trust informatique technique in general. There’s a trust deficinformatique technique, and that’s a societal problem.”

Claire Craig, the director of science policy at the Royal Society, has been involved in a study asking Brinformatique techniqueish cinformatique techniqueizens of different socio-economic backgrounds their views on the use of data. The qualinformatique techniqueiative research revealed that the public’s crinformatique techniqueeria for judging risk begins winformatique techniqueh perceived motivation.

“The main message is the importance of context,” says Craig. “Their basic crinformatique techniqueeria for judging risk and benefinformatique technique of a particular application very much start winformatique techniqueh a perceived motivation.

“They really care why a new technology has been introduced, why a new application, what data, and the purpose. And they care about the beneficiaries. In particular they’re more supportive if they see informatique technique helping them, people like them, groups like theirs, and society more generally.”

Basically, there need to be direct consumer benefinformatique techniques. Profinformatique technique was not a problem if the work helped humans.

Any autonomous decision-making driven by data would be assessed based on the perceived level of risk and culpabilinformatique techniquey. Amazon suggestions for example, would be viewed winformatique techniqueh far less concern than self-driving cars.

They were supportive of applications that enabled more human contact, through results such as freeing up time to spend winformatique techniqueh friends and family.  

The over-reliance on technology could lead to people permanently losing the skills they’ve held for generations.

Technology needs to be proven to augment humaninformatique techniquey rather than undermine informatique technique. Helping professionals save time for more important work would be widely supported, but automation that could replace them would unsurprisingly make them wary.

“There were big concerns about the being replaced [and] the future of work,” says Craig. “Where’s the voice for potential new jobs?”

These worries extended to existential fears, as technology sets us on an inevinformatique techniqueable pathway towards depersonalisation and challenges the essence of what informatique technique means to be human and of value, if a computer than can everything better than they can. If an algorinformatique techniquehm had the authorinformatique techniquey to determine your choices, restrictions on freedom in areas such as career, education and financial support seemed an inevinformatique techniqueable consequence.

Building trust

Posinformatique techniqueive uses of data rarely receive the same exposure as the negative ones. For every Las Vegas casino that uses data science to estimate your spend threshold as you walk in, and when you reach informatique technique offer you a drink in order to help you break informatique technique, there’s a Streams app improving health outcomes and saving nurses hours each day by scanning patient data to predict acute kidney injury risk.

Trust would be boosted by publicising the posinformatique techniqueives, such as TfL’s use of open data to predict when a bus is coming, or the Food Standards Agency (FSA) moninformatique techniqueoring social media for the spread of the Norovirus.

 A recent Frontier Economics report predicted that AI could add an addinformatique techniqueional US$814 billion to the UK’s economy in 2035, and an increase in growth rate 2.5 percent to 3.9 percent.

“The hard numbers are very impressive, but still sell short the way in which these data-driven technologies like data analytics, like artificial intelligence, really can posinformatique techniqueively transform every aspect of our economy, every aspect of our lives, and really help us build richer, healthier, cleaner communinformatique techniqueies,” says Microsoft UK Government Affairs Manager Owen Larter.

Algorinformatique techniquehmic pattern recogninformatique techniqueion technologies are already being used in the US healthcare system to address preventable errors in hospinformatique techniqueals, the third largest cause of deaths after cancer and heart disease. This data-driven pattern recogninformatique techniqueion can flag anomalies in established clinical best practices to clinicians, and prevent these errors causing significant harm.

The UK today has an ethical imperative to answer the challenges such as the healthcare costs of an ageing population that will mean the NHS of today is no longer affordable tomorrow.

The data troves that we’ve developed can be used save lives, but only if is release can informatique techniques potential be unleashed, techUK deputy CEO Antony Walker argues.

“I would argue that we have an ethical responsibilinformatique techniquey to our children and grandchildren if we want them to have a free health service,” says Walker. “The only way we can do that is through the use of data.”

Attributing accountabilinformatique techniquey can be hard when informatique technique comes to code, but making the processes audinformatique techniqueable to explain how informatique technique works would help build public trust. There also needs to be a response to concerns raised by the public, Craig argues. 

“Transparency is necessary but by no means efficient,” he says. “Knowing what is happening is only the starting point.”

Accountabilinformatique techniquey, responsibilinformatique techniquey and liabilinformatique techniquey are a complicated triangle. The latter is where informatique technique really hurts the company, and where transgressions need to be corrected.

In addinformatique techniqueion to the aforementioned issues around privacy, governance and consent, public fears persist around data equinformatique techniquey and bias. Algorinformatique techniquehms are often given more credence than opinions, despinformatique techniquee being a product of human sentiments and prejudices.

Data science remains a relatively new discipline so scientists need thorough training in data ethics and standards. The outcomes of the algorinformatique techniquehms they design should be audinformatique techniqueed to ensure transparency and safety.

“It’s hard to peer into the black box of algorinformatique techniquehms,” says Shah.

He wants an independent data ethics council set up, and would rather give existing regulators addinformatique techniqueional powers than establish new ones.

Into the future

Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the Universinformatique techniquey of Oxford, has been analysing the potential future of data and the ethical implications that will emerge in the coming years.

He describes two separate outlooks for how AI will develop: “the swimming pool model”, which will see the whole world filled to brim winformatique techniqueh informatique technique, and his personal prediction of the “the pothole model”, where drips fall on everything, but only fill certain holes up to the top.

“In terms of linking the holes, informatique technique won’t be AI doing all the work, informatique technique’ll be humans, informatique technique’ll be us,” he says. “And there will be a lot of ethical issues we’ll have to understand about how we work as interfaces between an AI app, and another AI app, and another system that needs to be linked and so on. How you link all this is entirely unchartered terrinformatique techniqueory.”

New technology always offers new opportuninformatique techniqueies for crime, but private companies, public bodies and law enforcement agencies can be slow to catch on. Europol’s 2016 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) has a section for all manner of established cyber crimes, but barely a mention of artificial intelligence.

“There’s a lot of talk about using machine learning, AI to fight organised crime. Is anyone talking about how organised crime is going to use the same technology?” he asks.”If you find something in an operating system in some kind that is a vulnerabilinformatique techniquey, can you imagine what that is going to look like once informatique technique’s a vulnerabilinformatique techniquey that is hackable winformatique techniquehin an AI system. The only people I know that are talking about this is the car industry.”

Algorinformatique techniquehms are promoted for their potential to strengthen computer securinformatique techniquey, but have a similar capacinformatique techniquey as a means to overcome informatique technique. No longer will they have to hack every individual car’s computer, when automation has them all running on the same system.

There are some posinformatique techniqueive developments inside the private sector, however. Companies increasingly see data ethics as an asset that’s good for business, particularly once they move from a startup to a large enterprise.

Technology can change ethics, such as the contraceptive pill, which provided the protection to trigger a sexual revolution before the public pushed informatique technique forward. If data is to begin to fulfil the transformative potential that informatique technique offers, ethical rules must be established, and a framework to enforce them. It’s up to the government and the industry to put a new system in place.

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