Reframing the Questions of Ethics in AI and Data Analytics, with Paul Dourish

From political manipulation on social media to racial bias in criminal justice systems, a range of problems have turned public and professional attention towards the questions of ethics in AI and data science. Just what are those questions, though? Simply asking what the ethics of those technologies might be seems to presume the inevitability of the systems in the first place. And once we decide that ethics needs to be a part of the design process, then what kinds of ethics do we want to propose?

I will review some of the landscape of these debates and suggest a way forward based on two frameworks — feminist ethics of care and decolonial theory. Turning to these approaches offers us an approach that emphasizes collective action and community self-determination, both of which are notably absent from current debates about the promise and perils of data-driven AI.

Paul Dourish is Chancellor’s Professor of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine, with courtesy appointments in Computer Science and Anthropology. He is also an Honorary Professorial Fellow in Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses primarily on understanding information technology as a site of social and cultural production; his work combines topics in human-computer interaction, social informatics, and science and technology studies. He is the author of several books, most recently “The Stuff of Bits: An Essay on the Materialities of Information” (MIT Press, 2017). He is a Fellow of the ACM, a Fellow of the BCS, a member of the SIGCHI Academy, and a recipient of the AMIA Diana Forsythe Award and the CSCW Lasting Impact Award.