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by QSR

Supports robust qualitative and mixed methods research for virtually any data source and any research method.

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by QSR

Intuitive data analysis software designed for public policy experts analyzing surveys.

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Creating software to help you discover the rich insights from humanised data.

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Research, Data and Ethics

My algorithm said what? The ethics of algorithm development

Algorithms that were once the domain of mathematics specialists, computer programmers and rocket scientists are now an integral part of our every day lives, whether we think about them or not. Algorithms make recommendations for us from which route our GPS suggests we drive to work, to which playlist our music streaming service of choice serves us, to who our social media account thinks we might like to be friends with.

However, controversies such as the scandal around Cambridge Analytica and Facebook in 2018 serve to make us think twice about the ethics related to the way data is captured, analyzed and utilized.

Data and the algorithms that can be used to mine them are not the enemy. Anyone who speaks to their chosen smart home device daily can attest that data collected and mined responsibly can enhance our lives. When it comes to the research world, as social scientists we have a responsibility to ensure that we take the lead in ensuring that algorithms are developed responsibly. To ensure that privacy is protected, and that research is always conducted under ethical conditions. The key to achieving this is the mechanism of transparency.

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Algorithms and data ethics

Code of ethical behaviour

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”.

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Natural language processing – now and the future

When Joaquin Phoenix fell in love with ‘Samantha’, in the 2013 film ‘Her’, he sets about creating a meaningful relationship with an operating system that is artificially intelligent, and able to communicate with him in a language he can understand.

At the time the film was released, Apple’s Siri technology had been in the market, and in the hands of users for about two years, so the concept of speaking to a ‘smart’ device, and having it speak back to you wasn’t something entirely foreign to audiences. In the world Spike Jonze created in ‘Her’, this technology had evolved far enough that a human was able to develop a real emotional connection to it.

In reality, we’re not quite at the point where an exchange with your computer or smart device may lead you to romantic feelings, but it does make us consider where the technology is headed.

What is Natural Language Processing?

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Natural Language Processing