Data Ethics Club: Data Ethics Resolutions#

What’s this?

This is summary of Wednesday 25th January’s Data Ethics Club discussion, where we discussed our Data Ethics related New Year’s resolution for 2023.

The summary was written by Huw Day, who tried to synthesise everyone’s contributions to this document and the discussion. “We” = “someone at Data Ethics Club”. Nina Di Cara and Natalie Thurlby helped with the final edit.

A Birthday/New Year Tradition#

Data Ethics Club was “born”, if you like, in January 2021 and so this meeting marks the clubs second birthday. It’s also the first time we’ve met as a group in the year 2023. We’re not sure how many times you have to repeat something before it becomes a tradition but we’re certainly working towards that it with our first session of the year. Last year we first met to discuss some Data Ethics related New Years resolutions, you can read what sort of resolutions we had here. For this session we reflected on how we had done from the year before and thought about what we wanted to do this year, both as individuals as well as how we want the club to move forward as a whole.

This blog will contain some personal reflections, hopes from how we can develop the club moving forward and ways you can get more involved with Data Ethics Club.

Personal resolutions#

Last year Huw planned to do outreach talks to school on Data Ethics and Weapons of Maths Destruction. These talks have gone down well and you can read all about them in this blogpost. Huw had also hoped to set up a Data Ethics Club blog for members to write about Data Ethics related issues that interest them. We have had five such posts so far and if you’d like to contribute you can read about that in a later section. This year Huw wants to finish his PhD, get a job in data science and keep being polite to AI systems so that when they rise up, they think of him favourably.

Natalie, ambitious as ever, wants to write up the Data Hazards paper (with some excellent co-authors!), do some more data ethics teaching (inspired by Huw’s outreach last year and Euan’s lecturing this year). On Natalie’s reading list is “Kang, E. B. (2023), Ground truth tracings (GTT): On the epistemic limits of machine learning and Big Data & Society, 10(1) - recommended by Ola. In new projects, Natlie wants to do research that is a positive thing even if the result aren’t interesting, set up a dedicated area for the blog on the website, try a weird (not first past the post) voting system for data ethics club and would love to write another paper with the data ethics club crowd!

Zoë wants to interview the Data Ethics organisers on the NHS-R Community podcast that she started being involved with last year. She is planning to introduce/mention Data Hazards in workshops/meetings to raise awareness and try to tie it into everyday work that analysts in the NHS/Councils do. She also is going to research/read more about [Palantir]( and and the possible implications for the work at the National level with their data platforms, particularly linked to the recent announcement of working with Posit (formerly RStudio). This might be something that could be discussed in an ethics committee type format.

Alessia plans to pilot similar work at Wellcome Genome Campus to facilitate data scientists (and other professionals) to engage with ethical issues relevant to their work!

Euan wants to find ways to introduce more Data Ethics material (and memes, of course) in lectures/tutorials for students and staff at his work. Euan also wants to successfully navigate academia collaboratively, rejecting the competition paradigm (slightly more ambitious than remembering to say “please” and “thank you” to your at home Google assistant!)

Our very own Nina wants to find a way to spread the word about data ethics to other fields using data (e.g. psychology! medicine!) - this might be by running a data hazards workshop. She would also like to find a way to make this formally part of her job, rather than just a passion project. Nina would also like to be brave enough to engage more with the data ethics community, maybe by attending a conference?

Vanessa wants to do a data ethics project with non-technical people, publish her data ethics work and make masters students contribute to her data ethics research.

Jess wants to complete applied data science module and learn more about the technical side as well as get involved helping out with data ethics club!

Ola wants to learn some tech/data visualisation skills to become a more well rounded person - Huw suggests the JGI Data Viz seminar! Ola will run a Digital Societies Reading group (late Feb-ish) on ground truth in ML: Kang, E. B. (2023), Ground truth tracings (GTT): On the epistemic limits of machine learning and Big Data & Society, 10(1). Precise details to be confirmed but everyone is invited so stay tuned!

Noshin would like to think more about intersectionality in data and from whom’s perspective is the data story being told. Holding the experience behind the data in mind when reporting on key themes surrounding children’s social care. Also there isn’t much peer review in her context, so it would be good to have this challenge!

Amy wants to use her publishing background to support our data ethics resolutions!

Club Resolutions#

Moving past individual goals, next we stopped to think about what we wanted the club itself! We generally liked the “The intro -> small group discussion - > full group sum-up” format of the meetings. Some suggestions included:

  • Try a weird voting system instead of first past the post

  • Could we have an agony aunt for data ethics? Where people can bring specific data ethics conundrums they have?

  • Some more ‘expert’ presentations before our talks like we had for our discussion on AI Generated Art to give us more context to our discussions

How can you get involved?#

The Data Ethics Club organisers work on this group, and all it’s outputs, as a passion project alongside their full time jobs (and sometimes, instead of their full time jobs). We are always happy to have people come and help us with all sorts of things to keep the club going, help us reach more people and provide better content for the group. Have a look below at how you can make an impact:

Produce and review website resources#

After each meeting we put together from a collection of notes taken by various members in different breakout rooms to make a writeup summary of the discussion. If you want more insight into the process of how this gets done and the one time Huw got ChatGPT to do it for him, have a look here. If you would like to help by writing or reviewing any of the writeups, perhaps of a discussion you found particuarly interesting, get in touch!

Additionally, one of the most important resources on our website is our reading list! We always welcome member submissions to the list and if you tell us how to (e.g. github, twitter, linkedin etc.) we can credit you on the website. We pick from this reading list each meeting for a poll which members then vote on for the next discussion. If you would like to contribute to the reading list we would love to add your suggestions.

Maybe you have knowledge in an area that you feel our reading list has missed, have an article you want to read and want to use a Data Ethics Club meeting to give you the nudge to do it or maybe you read something and thought it would be perfect for one of our discussions. Additionally, if you just want to help us organise and curate it, we would really value that help!

Suggested topics/reading:#

Nagoya protocol: Microbiological Research Under the Nagoya Protocol: Facts and Fiction ChatGPT:

Bring a guest speaker#

We really value having experts on topics come in to and offer their insights on our discussions. We would love to have speakers come into introduce topics to the group with brief presentations before joining us in discussions on relevant topics. If you or someone you know would like to come and join our discussions, we’d love to hear about it!

Write a blog post#

As well as the writeups of each discussion on our website, we have several member written blogposts about topics of interest to them.

We have had five such blogposts so far:

If you’re interested in writing something, whether you have an idea but don’t know where to start or you have a draft already, reach out to Huw! We’ll of course review and give feedback to your writing and help you make it just right before we put it on our website.

Euan had this to say about the process: “Keep the blog posts going (as long as people have time to work on them!) I really enjoyed working on the one I co-authored and hope to do more, time permitting. It was really nice to have some compassionate reviewers who helped me narrow down the aim of my post.”

Spread the Word#

We’re trying to do more and more to spread the word about Data Ethics club, talking to at the University of Bristol Intelligent Systems Lab seminar to get more AI CDT students involved with the club at the end of 2022. We also started off the year by talking to the Financial Conduct Authority about what we do at Data Ethics Club and how they can run something similar. If you know of any groups that would be interested to hear about what we do, we’d love to hear about it! And of course if you know people who might be interested in joining the club, do bring them along - all are welcome!


Name, Role, Affiliation, Where to find you, Emoji to describe your day

  • Natalie Zelenka, Data Scientist, University of Bristol, NatalieZelenka, @NatZelenka

  • Nina Di Cara, Research Associate, University of Bristol, ninadicara, @ninadicara

  • Huw Day, a data scientist by certain criteria*, University of Bristol, @disco_huw

  • Euan Bennet, Lecturer, University of Glasgow, @DrEuanBennet

  • Vanessa Hanschke, PhD Interactive AI, University of Bristol

  • Ola Michalec, Researcher at the University of Bristol

  • Noshin Mohamed Quality Assurance for Children’s social care

  • Zoë Turner, Senior Data Scientist, The Strategy Unit (NHS) @Lextuga007

  • Jessica Woodgate, PhD Student, University of Bristol @jess-mw