Chapter 14. Ethics Must Be a Cornerstone of the Data Science Curriculum

Linda Burtch

We’ve all seen the headlines: companies gathering personal data without permission, accidentally deploying discriminatory algorithms, or selling access to private data, as well as other examples of corporate data culture gone wrong.

In my other piece for this book, I address the responsibility of the corporate side when it comes to addressing the work culture that creates these types of ethical issues. This led me to wonder: how can we instill more ethical consideration into the data science community at large to prevent these types of disasters?

Ethics has long been part of the curriculum for those pursuing finance degrees and MBAs more generally, and in the past few years especially, we’ve seen more of these courses in data science master’s programs and even in online learning programs. In my view, to address the growing ethical quandaries that this age of seemingly boundless personal data provides us with, ethics needs to be made a cornerstone of any quantitative learning program, including traditional academic degrees, data science boot camps, MOOCs (massive open online courses), and everything in between.

I know, I know. The math, statistics, and computer science curriculum for a data scientist is already overflowing, and the scope of learning is daunting. ...

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