Ethics Happy Hours

Announcing our new Data Science Section Initiative:
Share and discuss ethical challenges encountered in your professional life during Ethics Happy Hours

Ethical questions are ubiquitous in pursuing real-world data science projects. During the Covid-19 crisis, controversies around the design of contact tracing apps or the moderation of GCSE and A-level results have recently served as a reminder of the diverse forms that such questions can take.

To raise awareness and promote informed debate about the role of ethics in data science, we are planning to launch a new initiative that draws on the wealth of professional experience that exists within the Data Science Section and the RSS community more broadly. The core of this initiative will be a series of virtual ‘ethics happy hours’ dedicated to discussions of ethical challenges and dilemmas encountered by community members in their professional lives, thus relying on the power of concrete case studies to spark ethical deliberation.

Our hope is for these sessions to provide an opportunity for valuable intellectual exchange, but also for DSS members to get together and get to know each other during these times of social distancing. Each session will feature two to three pre-identified discussants, including Florian Ostmann (Alan Turing Institute), Anjali Mazumder (Alan Turing Institute), Danielle Belgrave (Microsoft Research) and other DSS committee members. Drawing on their ethics expertise and covering conceptual and philosophical as well as technical angles, discussants will share initial reflections on the selected case study, followed by an open conversation among all participants.

The single most important ingredient will be your stories. If you have encountered or
witnessed ethical challenges in your professional life as a data scientist that you think would make for an interesting discussion, the DSS committee would like to hear from you.

Initially, a short summary of 200 to 500 words will be all we need. Following a review of submissions received, we will be in touch with proponents of selected stories to explore the best way of presenting them and, where needed, develop them in more detail. In doing so, we will be guided by authors’ confidentiality preferences. Stories may be anonymised as needed and contributors will be free to decide whether or not to present their story themselves or otherwise identify themselves during the discussion.

We look forward to receiving your stories by October 15th via email to If you have any questions prior to submitting a story, please do not hesitate to reach out via the same address.

— Florian, Anjali, Danielle

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