The Royal Statistical Society has partnered with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) to publish a practical guide for data science practitioners regarding the ethical use of data science.
The new guide is being launched at a event at RSS HQ on 7 October with RSS President Deborah Ashby, IFoA President John Taylor, Jeni Tennison of the Open Data Institute and Carly Kind of the Ada Lovelace Institute in panel discussion.
Data science – the increasing use of large datasets for analysis and decision-making – is becoming of increasing interest with the growth of new data sources and increased computing power. As a result, the ethical significance of data science, and the implications for industries and the wider public, is constantly evolving.
As data science methods become more common practice within statistical and actuarial fields, there are both opportunities and challenges for practitioners. The new guide, for both RSS and IFoA members as well as other data scientists, was developed through engaging with practitioners around the UK and builds upon existing tools and frameworks.
This guide focuses on five broad principles of data ethics and ways of considering these within data science work; avoiding harm, supporting the value of data science for society, maintaining professional competence, increasing trustworthiness and maintaining accountability and oversight.
John Taylor, President of the IFoA and Deborah Ashby, President of the RSS said, in a joint statement:
‘By seeking to bring the core professional values and our commitment to the public interest, which lies at the heart of our respective professions to the field of AI and data science, our goal is to build public trust in the work that our members undertake through the application data ethics.
Created with practitioners in mind, this guide seeks to provide practical support to members on ethical practice. Structured around our five core ethical themes, the guide provides examples of common ethical challenges in the field and how they could be applied. We also provide a wealth of reference material; with links to a wide range of online tools, legal and regulatory reference points and a host of other practical resources on our websites.
Although we’re sure that ethical theory and practice will continue to evolve in this fast-changing field, we’re pleased to be able to offer a strong framework for that evolution that aims to support the work of our members, maximise the benefits inherent in data science and protect the public interest.’
Additional information and resources: ethical data science is also available to download.