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Why making data driven decisions is a dereliction of duty. (Unless you have an ethical core)

By EMEditor | 9 May 19 12:30pm | Business News

I remember seeing someone in a t shirt in Shoreditch a few years ago. It proudly proclaimed ‘I make data driven descisions’. That saves having to have a conscience, or morality, I thought.

Data driven descisions are what drive Facebook, Google, Youtube, Bing, Amazon, everything high tech. There’s problems. Big problems. With data driven systems and human users of them.

Let’s say a person is on Youtube. It knows and learns what they like. So it gives them more of it. Not just more of the same, but more of the ‘essence’ of it. They look at slightly right wing videos on Youtube, so it starts offering more Right Wing videos, further Right Wing, Very Right Wing, Extreme Right Wing, Fascist videos, algorythmically grooming and radicalising the viewer.

Why? Because it keeps them watching more and more. From a data based descision makers perspective, this is effective and desired.

Bing offers an image feature. Start looking at pornography, and it will suggest increasingly extreme versions of it. From a data based descision makers perspective, this is effective and desired.

Data Based Descision Making easily exploits human weakness. It exploits addictive tendencies, the primal aspects of our psyche. It’s like a drug dealer, you enjoy soft drugs, so here, have some harder ones, and more addictive ones, and more and more and more. Some platforms have the same void of ethics.

What’s required is an intention, a core ethicist in the system, that determines the directions of ‘travel’.

A core ethicist in YouTube’s system would detect the person exploring right wing videos, and offer a more balanced perspective, suggesting alternative views, counter arguments, and widening the viewers position rather than ever narrowing it.

Bing would detect the person exploring pornography, and moderate their choices in a way designed to de-escalate the habit, rather than encourage it.

The core ethicist sets the intention, the tone, the direction. Not towards ever more harmful and addictive content, but towards a healthier mindset for the individual.

Without a core ethicist, you get what we have. Systems designed to exploit human weaknesses. There is no middle ground on this. Systems without a core ethicist are unethical by default, because humans are flawed, and these systems identify and exploit those flaws.

You can google more information on the above. The internet is full of it.

Random stock image by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

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