Behind the Data: Humans and Values
This course provides an introduction to ethical and legal issues surrounding data and society, as well as hands-on experience with frameworks, processes, and tools for addressing them in practice. It blends social and historical perspectives on data with ethics, law, policy, and case examples — from Facebook’s “Emotional Contagion” experiment to controversies around search engine and social media algorithms, to self-driving cars — to help students develop a workable understanding of current ethical and legal issues in data science and machine learning. Legal, ethical, and policy-related concepts addressed include: research ethics; privacy and surveillance; bias and discrimination; and oversight and accountability. These issues will be addressed throughout the lifecycle of data — from collection to storage to analysis and application. The course emphasizes strategies, processes, and tools for attending to ethical and legal issues in data science work. Course assignments will emphasize researcher and practitioner reflexivity, allowing students to explore their own social and ethical commitments.
Student Learning Outcomes: Upon completion of the course, students will be able to critically assess their own work and education in the area of data science; to identify and articulate basic ethical and policy-based frameworks; and to understand the relationship between their work and ethical frameworks and legal obligations.