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  • Ethics for Data Professionals
  • Ethics for Professionals
  • Ethics for Technical Professionals
  • Professional Ethics: (SECTION)


  1. What is Ethical?
  2. Why Ethics? (Is my job ethical?, Why Should I Care?)
  3. Looking for Ethics in All The Right Places (What industries are ethical?)
  4. Disrupting unethical industries.


Technical professionals have great power. But we don't consider our effect on society.

(IMAGE: with great power comes know)

We believe we are working to make our society, our world, a better place. At the very least we believe we aren't making things worse. We try and behave ethically.

"when you hear about a new start-up, remember to ask "Does this exist primarily to undercut unionized workers or quietly skirt labour laws?""

"Ethics: moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior"

Disrupting Unethical Industries

  • Disrupting unethical industries.
    • But do it for good reasons. Not just to profit.
    • Sharing economy and libraries.

Learn the business model. Nobody in Silicon Valley can disrupt agribusiness without knowing the economics and business models of the existing players.

Software is eating the world. Help software eat the worst parts of the world and leave something better in its place.

Your Goals Are Important

One of the.

  • Craigslist.
  • AutoTrader.

Mismeasurement and incentives * GDP vs. human happiness/suffering

Raw Notes

"Trust that fails in hard circumstances is not trust at all" "Nothing good happens in just 1 lifetime" <- short vs. long-term thinking. impatience. Bankers. Public companies & quarterly results "Join the winning side. You've already lost"

Is profit fundamentally unethical?

Good day: did I help? Did I hurt?

When you can't choose, pick buckets.

Does it make sense to name-and-shame people who do bad things?

Debt seems like the opposite of gratitude, generosity and humility. It's power over other people.

"Deeds not creeds" - how you live is what matters.

Affordable housing. How much do people spend on a place to live? How to hack this? Cost of land vs. cost of building How do city policies affect affordability and availability? When building magnates promise 'affordable housing', how much of that actually happens?

Clothing website for real people's sizes

  • hmason: Do good with data. @donorschoose hires a data scientist! http://t.
  • hmason: Lack of guidelines create ethical dilemmas in social network-based
  • Measuring Industry Impact

    Let's measure each industry, and assign a value to them.


    However, no business works in a vacuum; they all interact with one another. Suddenly we have a network instead of a list.

    If I have N (INSERT) industries that link together, and have different association weights (REFINE), then I want to transfer some of the weight around to compensate for it.

    There's a famous way to do this: PageRank. This is the same problem as having different web pages that link to each other with different weights. So let's use that. (ACCOUNT FOR INDUSTRY SIZE? CALCULATE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE SEPARATELY?)

    • Venn diagram: good intentions, being effective, unintended consequences

    Measuring Neutrality

    We can use this to measure something else: the effect of building tools. Let's say we build a frameework or tool, called Gorilla.

    • Online ads and SEO as the cruft of society?
    • If you just build tools, look at what industries they're used in. Then use Bayesian math to figure out if your effect is unethical. For example, if you build a better big data engine, what % of big data engines are used for the NSA or online ad serving?

    Industry Examples

    | Industry | What You Can Do | Good | Bad| | Hospitals | | | | Pharmaceutical Company| Make essential drugs | | | | National Security | | | | | Natural Gas | | | | | 'Big Data' | | ? | Discriminate | | 3D Printing | Create 3D objects | Make a $1K 3D-printed house, | Make a $20 3D-printed pipe bomb | | Social Networking | Helping People Communicate, No Matter What, | | | Water | ?? | Help people get access to clean water | Make everyone pay for water, even if they could never afford it, | | GIS Developer | Visualize data on a map | Help fight Ebola, | The latest ad-drive app for tweens | | Law | Help thousands of refugee children in your own state, | | Dow chemical & Agent Orange | | Building tools for government | ? | ? | Make 911 software so crappy you help kill people, | | Security Researcher | Keep data secure | Help journalists inform the public of what their governments are doing, | Hide what governments are doing from their citizens | | Police officer | Enforce the law | Protect the public | Beat the public | | Financial regulator | | | Technical manager | Screw employees out of salary, |