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Data Science for Undergraduates: Opportunities and Options (2018)

Chapter: Appendix D Data Science Oath

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix D Data Science Oath." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Data Science for Undergraduates: Opportunities and Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25104.
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Page 90
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D Data Science Oath." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Data Science for Undergraduates: Opportunities and Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25104.
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Page 91

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D Data Science Oath The committee proposed a Data Science Oath in its interim report and offers a revised version in this final report (in parallel with a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath for physicians). Given the sensitive nature of certain types of data and the significant ethical implications of working with such data, similar efforts to establish a code of ethics for data scientists are under way throughout the field. 1 While these various codes at times intersect in their expressions of the ethical principles for data science, the committee hopes that its oath captures the gravity of data-driven decision making and provokes discussions on the future normative structure of data science. While there are many common aspects to the Hippocratic Oath and the proposed Data Science Oath, there are also some key differences. Both oaths, however, share aspects of being necessary but not sufficient to address current and future ethical considerations. The potential consequences of the ethical implications of data science cannot be overstated. Previously, data were small and specialized, but now data are pervasive. The fact that all humans are in this together (e.g., generating data and economic activity) means that they all have a responsibility to each other. 1 To read about other work in the development of data science codes of ethics, see, for example, https://datapractices.org/community-principles-on-ethical-data-sharing/, http://datafordemocracy.org/projects/ethics.html, http://www.datascienceassn.org/code-of-conduct.html, http://www.rosebt.com/blog/open-for-comment-proposed-data-science-code-of-professional-conduct, https://dssg.uchicago.edu/2015/09/18/an-ethical-checklist-for-data-science/, http://thedataist.com/a-proposal- for-data-science-ethics/, https://www.accenture.com/t20160629T012639Z__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/PDF- 24/Accenture-Universal-Principles-Data-Ethics.pdf, accessed January 31, 2018. D-1 PREPUBLICATION COPY—SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION

BOX D.1 BOX D.2 Hippocratic Oath Data Science Oath I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: covenant: I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those data in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as scientists in whose steps I walk and gladly share such is mine with those who are to follow. knowledge as is mine with those who follow. I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are I will apply, for the benefit of society, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and required, avoiding misrepresentations of data and analysis therapeutic nihilism. results. I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, I will remember that there is art to data science as well as and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may science, and that consistency, candor, and compassion outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug. should outweigh the algorithm’s precision or the I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call interventionist’s influence. in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a I will not be ashamed to say, “I know not,” nor will I fail to patient’s recovery. call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are for solving a problem. not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most I will respect the privacy of my data subjects, for their data are especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. not disclosed to me that the world may know, so I will tread If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be with care in matters of privacy and security. If it is given to within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility me to do good with my analyses, all thanks. But it may also must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my be within my power to do harm and this responsibility must own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God. be faced with humbleness and awareness of my own I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous limitations. growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect I will remember that my data are not just numbers without the person’s family and economic stability. My meaning or context, but represent real people and situations, responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to and that my work may lead to unintended societal care adequately for the sick. consequences, such as inequality, poverty, and disparities I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is due to algorithmic bias. My responsibility must consider preferable to cure. potential consequences of my extraction of meaning from I will remember that I remain a member of society, with data and ensure my analyses help make better decisions. special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those I will perform personalization where appropriate, but I will sound of mind and body as well as the infirm. always look for a path to fair treatment and If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected nondiscrimination. while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I I will remember that I remain a member of society, with always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who need help and those who don’t. who seek my help. If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy vitality and virtuosity, respected for my contributions and remembered for my leadership thereafter. May I always act to preserve the finest _________________________ traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of helping those who can benefit from my work. SOURCE: L.C. Lasagna, 1964, Hippocratic Oath, Modern Version, The Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries and University Museums. http://guides.library.jhu.edu/c.php?g=202502&p=1335759, accessed August 21, 2017. D-2 PREPUBLICATION COPY—SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION

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Data science is emerging as a field that is revolutionizing science and industries alike. Work across nearly all domains is becoming more data driven, affecting both the jobs that are available and the skills that are required. As more data and ways of analyzing them become available, more aspects of the economy, society, and daily life will become dependent on data. It is imperative that educators, administrators, and students begin today to consider how to best prepare for and keep pace with this data-driven era of tomorrow. Undergraduate teaching, in particular, offers a critical link in offering more data science exposure to students and expanding the supply of data science talent.

Data Science for Undergraduates: Opportunities and Options offers a vision for the emerging discipline of data science at the undergraduate level. This report outlines some considerations and approaches for academic institutions and others in the broader data science communities to help guide the ongoing transformation of this field.

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