5 books on Digital Ethics to read this summer!

Here’s a list of 5 Digital Ethics related books you might want to read this summer! The following readings can be appreciated by all types of audience, including people not working in the IT sector.

Social Media

Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media
by S. T. Roberts (2019)
Social media on the internet can be a nightmarish place. A primary shield against hateful language, violent videos, and online cruelty uploaded by users is not an algorithm. It is people. Mostly invisible by design, more than 100,000 commercial content moderators evaluate posts on mainstream social media platforms: enforcing internal policies, training artificial intelligence systems, and actively screening and removing offensive material—sometimes thousands of items per day.
Sarah T. Roberts, an award-winning social media scholar, offers the first extensive ethnographic study of the commercial content moderation industry. Based on interviews with workers from Silicon Valley to the Philippines, at boutique firms and at major social media companies, she contextualizes this hidden industry and examines the emotional toll it takes on its workers. This revealing investigation of the people “behind the screen” offers insights into not only the reality of our commercial internet but the future of globalized labor in the digital age.

The book is available for purchase here: https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300235883/behind-screen.


Data Ethics: The New Competitive Advantage
by G. Hasselbalch and P Tranberg (2016)

Respect for privacy and the individual’s right to control their own data is becoming a key competitive parameter. Companies, organisations and authorities that treat data ethics as a social responsibility as important as environmental awareness and respect for human rights are tomorrow’s winners. Digital trust is paramount for digital growth and welfare.

This book combines broad trend analysis with case studies of companies working with data ethics to varying degrees. The authors make the case how citizens and consumers are no longer just concerned about their lack of control over data, but also have begun to act, and how alternative business models, advances in technology and a new European data protection regulation combined foster a growing market for data ethical products and services. It provides a critical and fresh look at tech trends and the ethical dilemmas intertwined with them. It is a book for responsible players on how to get started with data ethics and how to use it to develop digital trust.

The book is available for free download at https://dataethics.eu/da/book/.

Ethical Reasoning in Big Data: An Exploratory Analysis (Computational Social Sciences)

by J. Collman and S. A. Matei, editors (2016)

This book springs from a multidisciplinary, multi-organizational, and multi-sector conversation about the privacy and ethical implications of research in human affairs using big data. The need to cultivate and enlist the public’s trust in the abilities of particular scientists and scientific institutions constitutes one of this book’s major themes. The advent of the Internet, the mass digitization of research information, and social media brought about, among many other things, the ability to harvest – sometimes implicitly – a wealth of human genomic, biological, behavioral, economic, political, and social data for the purposes of scientific research as well as commerce, government affairs, and social interaction.

What type of ethical dilemmas did such changes generate? How should scientists collect, manipulate, and disseminate this information? The effects of this revolution and its ethical implications are wide-ranging. This book includes the opinions of myriad investigators, practitioners, and stakeholders in big data on human beings who also routinely reflect on the privacy and ethical issues of this phenomenon. Dedicated to the practice of ethical reasoning and reflection in action, the book offers a range of observations, lessons learned, reasoning tools, and suggestions for institutional practice to promote responsible big data research on human affairs.

Find the book in the nearest library

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

by Cathy O’Neil (2016)

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.

But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.

O’Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it’s up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.

The book is available for purchase here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/weapons-of-math-destruction-cathy-oneil/1123130166


Towards a Code of Ethics for Artificial Intelligence
by P. Boddington (2017)

The author investigates how to produce realistic and workable ethical codes or regulations in this rapidly developing field to address the immediate and realistic longer-term issues facing us. She spells out the key ethical debates concisely, exposing all sides of the arguments, and addresses how codes of ethics or other regulations might feasibly be developed, looking for pitfalls and opportunities, drawing on lessons learned in other fields, and explaining key points of professional ethics.

The book provides a useful resource for those aiming to address the ethical challenges of AI research in meaningful and practical ways. 

The book is available for purchase here: https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319606477