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points | 04.05.16

Where Do We Find Ethics?

danah boyd

Over the last two years, Data & Society has been convening a Council on Big Data, Ethics, and Society where we’ve had intense discussions about how to situate ethics in the practice of data science. We talked about the importance of education and the need for ethical thinking as a cornerstone of computational thinking. We talked about the practices of ethical oversight in research, deeply examining the role of IRBs and the different oversight mechanisms that can and do operate in industrial research. Our mandate was to think about research, but, as I listened to our debates and discussions, I couldn’t help but think about the messiness of ethical thinking in complex organizations and technical systems more generally.

Points: In this Points original, “Where Do We Find Ethics?” danah boyd takes us back to 1986 in order to pose the question of where we locate ethics in complex systems with distributed decision-making. Stay tuned for the forthcoming whitepaper from the Council on Big Data, Ethics, and Society.

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