University of Edinburgh highlights importance of ethics in National Data Strategy

The University of Edinburgh has taken part in the UK Government’s consultation on the framework National Data Strategy.

The consultation was launched during London Tech Week 2020 to explore whether the draft strategy accurately reflects the opportunities and challenges of the digital world.

In its response, the University brought together experts from different fields of research and innovation, including artificial intelligence and data ethics, open finance and hyper-computing.

The wide-ranging document highlights the importance of making a distinction between data protection and the ethical use of data.

The University believes that the ethical use of data cannot be achieved solely through meeting the technical and legal requirements of data protection: “Data protection does not ensure fairness in data processing, modelling, or deployment, nor prevent discriminatory outcomes. Even improving data quality does not reliably assure fair, equitable, or non-discriminatory data/AI models and deployments.”

The response also warns against the dangers of assuming data equates to knowledge and points to the large amount of human input required, such as data cleaning, validation, and testing, before reliable knowledge can be taken from data.

The government’s response is due to be published in early 2021.

Read the full response here.

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