Course Number: INFO 88A
Instructor: Anna Lauren Hoffman

This course provides an introduction to critical and ethical issues surrounding data and society. It blends social and historical perspectives on data with ethics, policy, and case examples—from Facebook’s “Emotional Contagion” experiment to search engine algorithms to self-driving cars—to help students develop a workable understanding of current ethical issues in data science. Ethical and policy-related concepts addressed include: research ethics; privacy and surveillance; data and discrimination; and the “black box” of algorithms. Importantly, these issues will be addressed throughout the lifecycle of data—from collection to storage to analysis and application.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of the course, students will 1) identify and articulate some basic ethical and policy-based frameworks; 2) understand the relationship between data, ethics, and society; and 3) be able to critically assess their own work and education in the area of data science. In particular, course assignments will emphasize researcher and practitioner reflexivity, allowing students to explore their own social and ethical commitments as future data scientists and information professionals.