Research with a conscience: Data manipulation and ethical consequences
In its purest form, data manipulation is the process of changing data in an effort to make it easier to read or be more organized. For example, a log of data could be organized in alphabetical order, making individual entries easier to locate. But what happens when data manipulation is not handled ethically? Controversies around Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, international fraudsters, and identity thieves have made us aware of how technology allows for our data to be manipulated.
As researchers, it’s vitally important that we’re aware of what it means to acquire and handle data ethically, especially in the face of constantly evolving technology. In this piece, we’ll look at how data can be manipulated, what it means to ethical, and how data manipulation can raise questions for researchers when it comes to technology solutions.
What is an ethically developed algorithm?
In 2016, research Andrew Tutt called for a ‘FDA for Algorithms’, noting ‘The rise of increasingly complex algorithms calls for critical thought about how to best prevent, deter and compensate for the harms that they cause…Algorithmic regulation will require federal uniformity, expert judgement, political independence and pre-market review to prevent – without stifling innovation – the introduction of unacceptably dangerous algorithms into the market”.