In early January, TDAI Faculty Affiliate Dennis Hirsch, who is Faculty Director of the Program of Data and Governance, and Christina Drummond launched a Business Data Ethics Lab in Residence with TDAI. The goal: Connecting with and educating people on the importance of data ethics and how to properly use it in the data analytics field.
Hirsch is a law professor in the Moritz College of Law and director of the Data and Governance Program within the college. Drummond is the co-founder and lab manager for the Applied Business Data Ethics Lab in Residence and is a lead researcher on civic data governance. Their focus is on the governance of advanced analytics in terms of privacy issues, bias, fairness and other similar issues. This particular research team is interested in answering the question, “How do you get the best out of analytics and reduce the risks that it can create?”
Hirsch notes that when people talk about data ethics they mean, “going beyond what the law currently requires in order to mitigate risks.” He has found that because today’s technology is growing so quickly in advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), law and policies haven’t caught up yet. To do so, professionals have to go beyond the law and try to achieve ethical use of advanced analytics and AI.
Their use of an interdisciplinary team has greatly impacted the scope and reach of their work. To really understand the risks that analytics poses and how to address them, Hirsch and Drummond knew they would need multiple perspectives. Their team works with TDAI affiliates from many different groups around campus such as the Fisher College of Business, the departments of Philosophy and Computer Science, and Moritz College.
“From the innovation perspective, there is a lot of happening across many different disciplines, so we felt the need to pull in that expertise,” said Drummond. “Data ethics really is multi-pronged and isn’t just a law and policy issue.”
Their new Business Data Ethics Lab in Residence is located in the TDAI Ideation Zone, Room 420B. There, the team focuses on “upside data ethics,” taking what they’ve learned about data ethics and its risks and providing useful lessons for companies that are trying to improve in this field. For instance, they are collaborating with a major American automotive company and companies in Columbus on potential data ethics solutions.
Ultimately, Hirsch said, “we hope that the companies we work with will integrate data ethics lessons and practice data analytics more responsibly.” Both he and Drummond believe that society benefits as a result of companies getting ahead of potential data ethics problems, and the, “field of DA as a whole can benefit because if it can be done more responsibly, then it can be done more fully.”
Written by Alyssa Schafer, TDAI student employee