Doing good data science

Mike Loukides, Hilary Mason, and DJ Patil published a first post in a series on data ethics on O’Reilly.

We particularly need to think about the unintended consequences of our use of data. It will never be possible to predict all the unintended consequences; we’re only human, and our ability to foresee the future is limited. But plenty of unintended consequences could easily have been foreseen: for example, Facebook’s “Year in Review” that reminded people of deaths and other painful events. Moving fast and breaking things is unacceptable if we don’t think about the things we are likely to break. And we need the space to do that thinking: space in project schedules, and space to tell management that a product needs to be rethought.

Because data might just be computer output — cold and mechanical — but what data represents and the things it leads to are not.