Data is fundamental to automated decision-making, and sits at the heart of its ethical and practical challenges. These range from well-known problems with bias and privacy to complexities of data ownership and flows across devices and national borders.

There are many examples of this, but here are a few:

  • An algorithm used to assign A-Level grades during COVID-19, is accused of bias against students from poorer backgrounds
  • Driverless vehicles unable to ‘see’ and avoid kangaroos because they were designed in Europe and trained with data about animals like deer, rabbits and foxes
  • Photos people posted of themselves online – or that others posted of them – have been collected by a company that markets facial recognition technology to the police. This is an issue of how data can be scraped once it is posted online.

As more workers telecommute due to the Covid-19 pandemic, new applications are being developed for detailed monitoring of remote employees. The new forms of data that are collected can help remote work become more efficient, but they can also result in wage theft and diminished autonomy in the workplace.

The ADM+S Data program works with data science asking ‘how’ to manipulate and use data to solve problems and automate decision-making systems, as well as critical data studies that asks the ‘why’ questions, and seeks to understand the social and cultural contexts of those systems, their impact and implications.

Working across disciplines and with the Centre’s industry partners, the Data research program will generate detailed descriptions of the logics, infrastructures and flows of data in ADM systems.

This group deploys new digital tools and methods to improve awareness of data-related issues and involve the public in research, as well as working closely with industry and other organisation partners to collaboratively develop and embed responsible, inclusive and ethical data practices in industry, government and community settings, leading to more effective automated decision-making with fairer outcomes.

New Centres and Institutes are emerging around the world to advance ethical data-driven AI and data governance, but the ADM+S tackles these challenges at an unprecedented scale of cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional collaboration.