#25: Laura Noren: The Ethics of Data Science

“The number one rule was ‘don’t be an asshole.’ So [when applying ethics to data science], we’re trying really hard not be assholes everyday.” -Laura Noren

Laura Noren is a data science ethicist and researcher currently working in cybersecurity at Obsidian Security in Newport Beach. She holds undergraduate degrees from MIT, a PhD from NYU where she recently completed a postdoc in the Center for Data Science. Her work has been covered in The New York Times, Canada’s Globe and Mail, American Public Media’s Marketplace program, in numerous academic journals and international conferences. Dr. Norén is a champion of open source software and those who write it.

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Show Notes:

Here are some of the highlights of the show:

  • [3:55] Laura explains how she produces the Data Science Community Newsletter, covering things like how the department of defense just got billions in funding to do AI research. How do you incorporate humor into such rigorous coverage?
  • [10:22] How can you distinguish signal from noise in choosing a news source?
  • [12:13] When and how to control your biases in your work when in the heat of the moment.
  • [14:05] Laura’s interests in data science began as an undergraduate at MIT, surrounded by people who build.
  • [16:10] Sociology in the context of people who build, since people are the *actual* most complicated systems.
  • [18:00] What important things defines a profession?
  • [19:30] What’s the difference between ethics and morals?
  • [22:04] How ethics affects the field of data science, specifically.
  • [25:35] The data science ethicist as person who is a creator, and not just there to put up stop signs.
  • [31:40] How can companies strike a balance between hard stops in a product and more negotiated unique messaging for customers to address ethical employees?
  • [38:53] How can smaller companies who can’t afford a Chief Ethics Officer monitor and address ethical issues?
  • [48:30] Techniques that can be used by individuals and organizations to identify and address ethical issues in a company.
  • [50:00] How data scientists can navigate non-black and white ethical issues in their own work.
  • [55:15] Laura’s recommendations for ethics 101: Data and Society, AI Now Institute, and Open AI.
  • [1:00:00] Laura ends off with a call-to-action to start conversations on ethics with your colleagues.

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AJ’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ajgoldstein393

Laura’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-noren-93a846145/

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