Ethics in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

, 2018-11-19 (first published: )

Microsoft redid its Data Science Track not too long ago and they added several courses and new progress points. One of those progress points is Apply Ethics and Law in Analytics and the course to cover this point is Microsoft DAT249x: Ethics and Law in Data and Analytics, offered through edX.

I’m enjoying this course even though it’s not a hard-core data analysis one. This course is great because it asks the questions about how data should be used, what biases might be present, and how we look at both before moving forward both ethically and legally. Even if you aren’t working on the data science track, if you’re a data professional of any type, I would recommend taking this free course (assuming you are only auditing and not looking for the certificate).

As a segue with respect to the importance of this course, once upon a time I was a college student who became hooked on Sociology. I had a professor teaching his last semester before retirement and I had two courses with him: Introduction to Sociology and Criminology. He had worked with police departments much of his professional life, and I remember how much he talked about bias not only in the data, but also how it was collected. He also talked about bias by proxy, though he didn’t use that phrase. A proxy is where you don’t want to use one statistic, such as race, so you find something that isn’t called race but effectively gives you the same thing because there’s a strong correlation between the two. An example is zip code here in the United States. We tend to live more segregated than we’d like to admit, so if you’re making decisions based on zip code with respect to people, much of the time you’re actually making decisions about race. This course looks at those types of things – topics that are easy to overlook as we got caught up in our analyses.

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