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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The battle for ethical AI at the world’s biggest machine-learning conference – Nature (Elizabeth Gibney | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 9, 2020

Bias and the prospect of societal harm increasingly plague artificial-intelligence research — but it’s not clear who should be on the lookout for these problems.

Diversity and inclusion took centre stage at one of the world’s major artificial-intelligence (AI) conferences in 2018. But once a meeting with a controversial reputation, last month’s Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) conference in Vancouver, Canada, saw attention shift to another big issue in the field: ethics.

If your institution is involved in AI, algorithm or big data research, who advises on its ethical dimensions?   Given the potential for societal harm, perhaps it’s time for serious consideration of the need for research ethics review for such work.

The focus comes as AI research increasingly deals with ethical controversies surrounding the application of its technologies — such as in predictive policing or facial recognition. Issues include tackling biases in algorithms that reflect existing patterns of discrimination in data, and avoiding affecting already vulnerable populations. “There is no such thing as a neutral tech platform,” warned Celeste Kidd, a developmental psychologist at University of California, Berkeley, during her NeurIPS keynote talk about how algorithms can influence human beliefs. At the meeting, which hosted a record 13,000 attendees, researchers grappled with how to meaningfully address the ethical and societal implications of their work.

Ethics gap
Ethicists have long debated the impacts of AI and sought ways to use the technology for good, such as in health care. But researchers are now realizing that they need to embed ethics into the formulation of their research and understand the potential harms of algorithmic injustice, says Meredith Whittaker, an AI researcher at New York University and founder of the AI Now Institute, which seeks to understand the social implications of the technology. At the latest NeurIPS, researchers couldn’t “write, talk or think” about these systems without considering possible social harms, she says. “The question is, will the change in the conversation result in the structural change we need to actually ensure these systems don’t cause harm?”

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Friday afternoon’s funny – Simple language0

Posted by Admin in on January 31, 2020

Cartoon by Don Mayne
Full-size image for printing (right mouse click and save file)

Too often it can seem as though researchers and potential participants are speaking different languages.  This can be especially true when researchers are trying to avoid loaded words like payment, inducement, referral and covert.  But when it comes to recruitment and consent, the painful effort is important.  This is another area where consumers/the community as co-researchers can be invaluable.

(China) Publishers urged to take stronger stance on Uighur persecution – Times Higher Education (Ellie Bothwell | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on January 30, 2020

Scholars say ensuring vulnerable minorities have given consent to use of their data does not go far enough

Academics are pushing journal publishers to take more drastic action in response to China’s crackdown on minority Muslims in the wake of increasing scrutiny over the global science community’s role in the continued persecution.

There have been rising concerns over Western journals’ publication of papers focusing on the DNA of minority ethnic groups by Chinese scientists affiliated with the country’s surveillance agencies.

More than 1 million Uighurs and other members of predominantly Muslim minority groups are believed to have been locked up in internment camps and there are worries that this research is being used to build databases, facial recognition systems and other methods for monitoring these groups.

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Australian biobank repatriates hundreds of ‘legacy’ Indigenous blood samples – Science (Dyani Lewis | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 28, 2020

The return is part of a groundbreaking approach that could inspire other institutions grappling with how to use historical samples ethically in research.

Last month, the Galiwin’ku community of Elcho Island off the coast of northern Australia celebrated the return of more than 200 vials of blood that were collected from their ancestors half a century ago, before modern research principles on informed consent existed. Unbeknownst to the Galiwin’ku community, the blood vials had been in freezers at the Australian National University in Canberra ever since.

It is great to see community activism and voice finally achieve an ethical outcome on a historical wrong.

Many Indigenous Australian communities believe that the remains of their people, including blood and hair, must return to their ancestral home, or Country, to be at peace. Having the blood vials returned “meant a lot to us”, says Ross Mandi Wunungmurra, chair of the Yalu Aboriginal Corporation, the community organization that helped negotiate the samples’ return. Mandi is one of several hundred living community members whose own blood was collected after a typhoid outbreak in 1968.

Before the samples of the deceased were repatriated, the relatives gave permission for DNA to be extracted from the blood, while those still alive offered fresh samples. The genetic information will be stored in the biobank of the National Centre for Indigenous Genomics (NCIG), which the Australian National University (ANU) established specifically to manage its historical samples.

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