Networked technologies—including the internet of things (IoT), wearables, ubiquitous sensing, social sharing platforms, and other AI-driven systems—are generating a tremendous amount of data about individuals, companies, and societies. These technologies provide a range of new opportunities for data scientists and researchers to understand human behavior and develop new tools that benefit society. At the same time, the ease with which data can be collected and analyzed raises a wide range of ethical questions about these technologies, their creators, and their users.
In recent years, we have seen numerous examples of research and technologies that are ethically problematic. For example, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed researchers using problematic tactics to collect profile data from millions of Facebook users. In addition, algorithms and machine learning techniques have been revealed as systematically biased in how they evaluate resumes, recommend parole for prisoners, decide where police units should deploy, and identify people through facial recognition technology, just to name a few.
Therefore, it is critical that data scientists and others who will be working with big data can critically assess the potential risks and benefits of any end products, whether they are developing a search engine or a tool for detecting terrorists. This course will provide an overview of key ethical issues that arise when working with big data, and it will provide opportunities to review and reflect on past mistakes in this space.
By the end of the course, students will…
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