Microethics for healthcare data science: attention to capabilities in sociotechnical systems

The Future of Science and Ethics 6:64-73 (2021)
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Abstract

It has been argued that ethical frameworks for data science often fail to foster ethical behavior, and they can be difficult to implement due to their vague and ambiguous nature. In order to overcome these limitations of current ethical frameworks, we propose to integrate the analysis of the connections between technical choices and sociocultural factors into the data science process, and show how these connections have consequences for what data subjects can do, accomplish, and be. Using healthcare as an example, attention to sociocultural conversion factors relevant to health can help in navigating technical choices that require broader considerations of the sociotechnical system, such as metric tradeoffs in model validation, resulting in better ethical and technical choices. This approach promotes awareness of the ethical dimension of technical choices by data scientists and others, and that can foster the cultivation of 'ethical skills' as integral to data science.

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