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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(US/China) When DNA science goes down an unethical path in China, who is responsible? – Medical Xpress (Brittany Meiling, et al | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on May 24, 2019
 

New reports that China is using DNA science developed in San Diego County for widespread ethnic surveillance raise ethical questions about who is responsible for how that technology is used.

The New York Times reported recently that Chinese authorities are building a DNA database of the country’s Uighur minority, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group blamed for a series of terrorist attacks in northwestern China.

Since 2016, there have been regular reports of authorities taking blood samples in the Xinjiang region, where ethnic tensions have been rising. The situation has evolved into a Muslim crackdown in China, with nearly one million Uighurs and other minorities reportedly held in “re-education” camps bent on making Muslims more subservient to the Communist Party. There, Uighurs are being forced to hand over genetic samples, which activists worry could later be used by authorities to chase down any Uighurs who resist the indoctrination.

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Ask The Chefs: AI and Scholarly Communications – Scholarly Kitchen (Ann Michael | April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on May 19, 2019
 

No one will dispute that AI (Artificial Intelligence) needs to “eat” data, preferably in massive quantities, to develop. The better the data quality, the better the result. When thinking about the potential applications of AI in scholarly communications as related to research artifacts, how will that work? How might AI be trained on high quality, vetted information? How are the benefits and costs distributed?

The ‘chefs’ at Scholarly Kitchen reflect on the role artificial intelligence could play in scholarly communications.  #SpoilerAlert, two things we need first are good and reliable data and steps to ensure deep biases in the current academic processes aren’t enshrined (and made invisible) in the inscrutable black box of code. We have included some links to a collection of related items.

This month we asked the Chefs: Where does scholarly communication and academic outputs fit in to the world of AI development?
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Judy Luther: In scholarly communications there is an expanding body of openly available content from preprint servers, such as arXiv and bioRxiv, and Open Access journals and books. In addition, there is a growing variety of formats that include datasets and code, open peer review, media, and other elements of the scholarly research cycle. This volume of content provides a rich resource to be mined for all stakeholders as well as a broader audience.
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(US) Safeguards for human studies can’t cope with big data – Nature (Nathaniel Raymond | April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 19, 2019
 

Forty years on from a foundational report on how to protect people participating in research, cracks are showing, warns Nathaniel Raymond.

One of the primary documents aiming to protect human research participants was published in the US Federal Register 40 years ago this week. The Belmont Report was commissioned by Congress in the wake of the notorious Tuskegee syphilis study, in which researchers withheld treatment from African American men for years and observed how the disease caused blindness, heart disease, dementia and, in some cases, death.

This item obviously relates very specifically to the origins of the US human research ethics arrangements and the operation of IRBs, but the questions it poses are salient to Australasia.  The oft repeated statement: “But the information is already published and so is in the public domain and so is exempt”.  Is no longer helpful. We have provided a list of related items.

The Belmont Report lays out core principles now generally required for human research to be considered ethical. Although technically governing only US federally supported research, its influence reverberates across academia and industry globally. Before academics with US government funding can begin research involving humans, their institutional review boards (IRBs) must determine that the studies comply with regulation largely derived from a document that was written more than a decade before the World Wide Web and nearly a quarter of a century before Facebook.
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It is past time for a Belmont 2.0. We should not be asking those tasked with protecting human participants to single-handedly identify and contend with the implications of the digital revolution. Technological progress, including machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence, has altered the potential risks of research in ways that the authors of the first Belmont report could not have predicted. For example, Muslim cab drivers can be identified from patterns indicating that they stop to pray; the Ugandan government can try to identify gay men from their social-media habits; and researchers can monitor and influence individuals’ behaviour online without enrolling them in a study.
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The Ethics of Learning Analytics in Australian Higher Education. A Discussion Paper (The University of Melbourne | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 11, 2019
 

Overview

This project brought together learning analytics experts from across Australia to explore key ethical issues relating to the development and use of learning analytics in higher education. The result of these discussions was a discussion paper that provides an outline of seven ethical principles as well as practical considerations associated with the use of learning analytics.

Objective

The ever-increasing availability of data about student activities in educational environments presents many opportunities for the improvement of learning and teaching through the use of learning analytics. In applying analytics, there is an obligation that educators and institutions ensure that data and analysis techniques are used appropriately. The range of ethical considerations that educational institutions must face is complex, and many institutions are still formulating their approach to ensuring ethical practice in this field.

The objective of this project was to draw together contemporary research and current practice in the area of ethics and learning analytics, and use this to produce a discussion paper that provides guidance to a range of higher education stakeholders including students, educators, researchers, and senior leaders.

Corrin, L., Kennedy, G., French, S., Buckingham Shum S., Kitto, K., Pardo, A., West, D., Mirriahi, N., & Colvin, C. (2019). The Ethics of Learning Analytics in Australian Higher Education. A Discussion Paper. https://melbourne-cshe.unimelb.edu.au/research/research-projects/edutech/the-ethical-use-of-learning-analytics

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