The only way is ethics: emphasises moral compass amid deluge of data plans | 6/14/2018 | Staff
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The UK government has released a guide to help civil servants figure out how to use and procure data science tools ethically as public opinion on slurping continues to circle the drain.

Amid the Facebook data harvesting scandal and news of yet another high-profile data breach, the government made a raft of announcements aimed at boosting the UK's data capabilities – but also emphasised the importance of ethics, including launching a consultation on its new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

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The plans – made as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) press offensive to coincide with London Tech Week – include industrial masters programmes in artificial intelligence; the opening up of the Ordnance Survey's geospatial data to small businesses; and £350,000 funding for Internet of Things research.

There is also a national data strategy in the offing, though the canned statement from the department was light on detail, indicating just that it would focus on its use in both the UK economy and by government.

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The move is further indication of Whitehall's growing obsession with data – or, more accurately, its perceived potential to cut costs in service delivery, which has given some people pause, especially when some departments have revealed quite gung-ho attitudes to data-sharing or processing.

The Data Ethics Framework is one of the ways the government hopes to demonstrate it is taking the issue of proper use of data seriously, aiming to act as a sanity check for civil servants who work with data, either directly or indirectly.

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The idea is for the framework to act as a guide to the limitations of data and data science; it sets out questions and issues to consider, such as bias or errors in data sets, algorithmic bias, fairness and accountability, and the need for transparency.

The decision to create the...
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