Ask a Data Ethicist: Why Does Data Ethics Matter?

By neub9
3 Min Read

Every time I present, I express my passion for Q&A sessions. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about people’s interests and offer insights and resources as a data ethics consultant. The work in this field is not about having simple, straightforward answers; it’s much more intricate and multifaceted.

Given the vast amount of existing data, along with the potential for more data collection and an endless array of options for its use, I believe that writing an advice-style column on data ethics for the DATAVERSITY community would be enjoyable and beneficial. The realm of data ethics is increasingly entwined with AI and other digital technologies, going beyond privacy regulations and cybersecurity commitments to protect data.

My journey into data ethics stemmed from research in artificial intelligence. As many data professionals now need to understand the implications of AI in their work, I aim to cover both data ethics and AI ethics in this column.

For our first entry, I will address a common question that I frequently encounter:

Why Does Data Ethics Matter?

Data is incredibly powerful. With great power comes great responsibility, as any Spiderman fan would agree. This is especially relevant when data involves people, either directly or indirectly.

Data has the power to influence significant aspects of our lives. Consider the story of Doug Lee, who was denied boarding a flight due to a minor discrepancy in his ticket. This incident reflects a deeper issue beyond data accuracy; it highlights the authority and influence of data over individuals, as outlined by philosopher Colin Koopman in his book “How We Became Our Data.”

The Growing Importance of AI Ethics

With AI and machine learning expanding the scope of data’s power, it’s crucial to recognize the implications of data-driven decisions on people’s lives. Data ethicists assist organizations in critically evaluating these impacts from various perspectives to ensure that decisions align with agreed-upon values and commitments throughout the data lifecycle.

Share Your Questions!

I’d be delighted to hear about your data or AI ethics questions and concerns. Feel free to reach out to me at or connect with me on LinkedIn. All inquiries will be handled confidentially, and any sensitive information will be removed, so you can share high-level and anonymous queries as well.

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