Ethics in the News: Big Data Ethics, Seven Commandments for Ethical AI, Ethics Guidance on Dealing with Disasters, Football’s Racial Divide, & More – September 21, 2018



Trump Rated Worse Than Other Modern-Day Presidents on Ethics
“The American public’s ratings of the ethical standards of Trump and his administration’s top officials are generally much worse than their ratings of his predecessors. Trump is viewed as having lower ethical standards than all presidents since Nixon, who resigned when faced with imminent impeachment.”

The fight over reopening the FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh, explained
“Democratic lawmakers have been calling for an independent FBI investigation from the beginning. Senate Republicans, however, say that’s not possible because “It’s not the FBI’s role to investigate a matter such as this,” as Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote in a letter to Ford’s lawyers on Wednesday. Grassley argued that the FBI’s role in the confirmation process is merely to conduct a background check of the nominee, which the Senate then takes into account when determining whether or not to confirm the individual in question.”

Who Is Christine Blasey Ford, The Woman Accusing Brett Kavanaugh Of Sexual Assault
“Christine Blasey Ford, a 51-year-old California professor, accused Kavanaugh of groping her and trying to take her clothes off when they were both attending suburban Maryland high schools in the early 1980s. In July, Ford reached out to her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein with her account of the incident, but requested confidentiality. Feinstein acknowledged her knowledge of the accusation last week but kept Ford’s identity private until the Sunday Post article. Feinstein said she passed Ford’s account on to the FBI.”

‘Dark money’ in politics is about to get lighter
“Secret money in politics will soon be a lot less secret. That’s because the Supreme Court today let stand a lower court ruling forcing politically active nonprofit groups to disclose the identities of any donor giving more than $200 when those groups advertise for or against political candidates. Until now, such nonprofit organizations — generally, those of the 501(c)(4) “social welfare” and 501(c)(6) “business league” varieties — could keep secret their donors under most circumstances.”

Bioethics/Medical Ethics

Bioethics Concerns Should Be a Key Element in mHealth [Mobile Health] Technology Development
“They raise the possibility that not all will have equal access to this technology and the healthcare improvements it may offer. Lack of literacy or fluency in the official language or poverty may limit participation in the benefits offered by the technology. The elderly may have more difficulty accessing the technology. In Western countries, users of some of these technologies such as iPhones and Fitbit are on average younger, more educated, and wealthier. This raises the question as to whether mHealth exacerbates health discrepancies or mitigates them.”

British grandparents use dead son’s sperm to create child
“A few years ago an unnamed 26-year-old unmarried man was killed in a motorcycle accident in the UK and his body was not discovered for two days. His wealthy parents, who are in their 50s, immediately set to work. He had been their only son and they desperately wanted a male heir. They engaged a urologist to extract sperm from their son’s corpse…Four embryos were created and Dr Smotrich performed gender selection to select a male. This was then implanted in an American surrogate and the child was born in 2015.”

Big data, big ethics: how to handle research data from medical emergency settings?
“…the collection and use of large-scale patient data bring about various ethical questions, as well as legal uncertainties given the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Medical emergency settings like SCA [sudden cardiac arrest] are particularly delicate, since patients cannot give consent beforehand, and because the majority do not survive the event.”

Examining the Ethical Considerations of Grateful Patient Fundraising
“Currently, it is widely held that grateful patient fundraising should only occur after successful treatment, and not in situations where the patient may still be sick, healing, or in an increased state of vulnerability. According to surveys among oncologists, the majority of physicians in this disease specialty feel they have a duty to participate in fundraising but often feel uncomfortable speaking to their patients regarding this topic. Only 26% of physicians, according to these surveys, have received education on the ethical guidelines for soliciting donations from patient potential donors.”

Technology Ethics

The role of corporations in addressing AI’s ethical dilemmas
“The growing sophistication and ubiquity of AI applications has raised a number of ethical concerns. These include issues of bias, fairness, safety, transparency, and accountability. Without systems compatible with these principles, the worry is that AI will be biased, unfair, or lack proper transparency or accountability. Concerns over possible problems have led many nongovernment, academic, and even corporate organizations to put forward declarations on the need to protect basic human rights in artificial intelligence and machine learning. These groups have outlined principles for AI development and processes to safeguard humanity.”

Benefits and Ethical Considerations of Using AI for Predicting Incapacitated Patients’ Consent
“The use of AI for data mining EHRs and social media is not a new concept; however, recent interest has increased over the utility of this practice for predicting consent for medical decisions in incapacitated patients. Data gained from EHR and social media profiles include past patient requests, comments, and discussions regarding potential health wishes. When making life-and-death decisions for incapacitated patients, both clinicians and surrogates, use of an AI algorithm can be an effective strategy for managing care and making decisions more in line with patient preferences.”

Technology Aims to Bring Us Longer Lives. How Ethical is That?
“Many people, such as philosopher John Harris and those in the Pew Center survey, worry that life extension would be available only to the rich and make existing inequalities even worse. Indeed, it is unjust when some people live longer than the poor because they have better health care. It would be far more unjust if the rich could live several decades or centuries longer than anyone else and gain more time to consolidate their advantages. Some philosophers suggest that society should prevent inequality by banning life extension. This is equality by denial – if not everyone can get it, then no one gets it.”

German firm draws up seven commandments for ethical AI
“German business software giant SAP has published an ethics code to govern its research into artificial intelligence (AI), in a bid to prevent the technology infringing on people’s rights, displacing workers or inheriting biases from its human designers…A group comprising engineers, theologians, political scientists and bio-ethicists put together the list of seven guidelines, ranging from respect for United Nations human rights principles to data protection.”

Business Ethics

How Did the Great Recession Change the Way B-Schools Teach Ethics?
“[University of North Carolina] professors teach students to pay close attention to the financial control and compliance culture of a firm, which can be evident during the recruiting process if graduates ask the right questions or dig for the right information. For example, does a firm have an independent audit function? When someone reports something troubling to an auditor, are they given confidentiality?”

Shareholders Push Nike for Greater Disclosure on Political Spending
“Investors are seeking greater transparency from Nike related to its political spending and putting a proposal demanding regular reporting on political contributions to a vote on Thursday…Investors pushing for greater disclosures want to ensure a company’s core values are aligned with its contributions.”

Ethics Rules Can’t Corral EPA Air Chief from Advancing Policies
“EPA air chief Bill Wehrum’s agenda looks similar to that of the energy industry he previously represented, but that doesn’t necessarily cross the boundaries of his recent ethics pledge. Standard ethics rules—including commitments put in place by President Donald Trump last year—are generally too narrow to prevent Wehrum from working on issues on which he had previously fought the Environmental Protection Agency in court, ethics specialists said…The result is that Wehrum—who worked for a decade as an attorney for Hunton & Williams LLP, now Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP—has relatively free rein to undo or rewrite the Obama-era regulations he previously fought without violating ethics rules.”

Disaster Ethics

Don’t Condemn People Who Don’t Evacuate for Hurricane Florence
“Not everyone can leave. In the aftermath of landfall, it might be tempting to condemn the people who stayed behind, but please be gentle. Evacuation, like most disaster resilience actions—and really, like most of life—is easier if you have wealth, health and extensive social networks. Being able to pack up your life and leave takes privileges you may not even realize you have. Everyone is doing the best they can based on their personal context.”

2 women drown in back of police van swept away by Florence flooding
“Two South Carolina mental health patients drowned in a prison transport van when floodwater from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence overtook the vehicle, according to the Horry County Sheriff’s Office. Two deputies escaped the vehicle, a news release said. They have been placed on administrative leave, the HCSO said in a statement.”

ABA releases new ethics guidance on dealing with disasters
“Recent large-scale disasters like Hurricane Florence and wildfires on the West Coast have reinforced the need for the ABA to address the myriad rules that lawyers must consider under these challenging circumstances. ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 482, released on Wednesday by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, clarifies the variety of ethical obligations attorneys face when disaster strikes.”

Sexual Ethics

Investigation Into Dallas Mavericks Reveals Sexual Misconduct Over 20 Years
“The results of a seven-month-long investigation into sexual harassment and workplace misconduct within the Dallas Mavericks organization over a period spanning more than 20 years were released Wednesday…Owner Mark Cuban has agreed to contribute $10 million to women’s causes following the workplace investigation.”

3D-Printing Gun Pioneer Cody Wilson Charged With Sexual Assault of a Minor
“…Cody Wilson has been known as the notorious pioneer of the homemade gun movement for fighting the U.S. government for the right to publish instructions for 3D-printed firearms online. On Wednesday, he made headlines for another reason: He was charged with sexual assault of an underage girl whom he allegedly came into contact with on the website According to the arrest warrant, Wilson met the girl at a coffee shop in Austin, Texas, before taking her to a hotel, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her and then paid her $500.”

Teaching Theology amid Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Scandals
“The School of Theology needs to respond with more than courses, but also with public conversations on ethics and sexuality, including sexual and emotional abuses of individuals and of groups of people whose gender identities or sexual orientations have been condemned by many churches. The churches have never fully explored the deeper values and issues in sexuality. Instead they (we) have often developed destructive ways of hiding, ignoring, abusing, and punishing.”

Sex robots, artificial intelligence, and ethics: How desire shapes and is shaped by algorithms
“If the data on which sex chatbots or virtual lovers runs on the cloud, we’re in a situation where the most private aspects of our lives are stored somewhere that could easily be accessed by malicious actors. This a real risk of Ai Furuse, where cloud space is required for your ‘virtual girlfriend’ to ‘evolve’ further. You pay for additional cloud space. It’s not hard to see how this could become a problem in the future. Thousands of sexual and romantic conversations could be easily harvested for nefarious purposes.”

Racial Ethics

The ongoing controversy around a black man killed by police in his own home, explained
“Botham Shem Jean, a black man, was in his own apartment in Dallas last Thursday when Amber Guyger, his downstairs neighbor and an off-duty police officer, shot him inside his own apartment. One week after the shooting, those are the only details that are certain…Jean was not accused or suspected of any crime. Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, says the shooting was an accident — the tragic culmination of a series of missed warning signs that revolve around a mistaken belief that she was in her own apartment.”

Police Search Dallas Shooting Victim’s Apartment for Drugs, Angering Critics
“In high-profile cases of police killings of black men, there are often attempts to portray the victims as violent, criminal, and at least partially responsible for their own killings. Discussion of Eric Garner’s history of arrests and even his weight persisted after his strangling in 2014, for example. And after Michael Brown’s shooting, police and their defenders fixated on his alleged attempted robbery beforehand.”

The Botham Jean Narrative And How To Lynch A Dead Black Man
“Dallas’ Fox affiliate ran with the headline, “DEVELOPING: Search warrant: Marijuana found in Botham Jean’s apartment after deadly shooting.” The purpose was clear: to criminalize an innocent Black man days after he was murdered. This is how the media aids in upholding racist violence by using dog whistles to justify Black death.”

NFL Rooney Rule: why football’s racial divide is larger than ever
“The Rooney Rule – which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for open head coaching and senior football operation roles – has seen a number of minorities climb the NFL coaching ladder in the past two decades…Since the Rooney Rule has been implemented, a new racial divide has opened up: Minority coaches have had more success finding jobs on defense, while white coaches are preferred for their expertise on offense.”

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