The Good, The Bad, and The Creepy: Why Data Scientists Need to Understand Ethics


Few data science programs and even fewer analytics programs require courses in ethics. This has downstream consequences for businesses and for society. Although universities do a (fairly) good job at teaching students what they CAN do with data, they are less adept at teaching students what they SHOULD (or SHOULD NOT) do with data. This talk goes through three case studies that explain the unintended consequences of data science in application without ethical guide rails. The presenter discusses the obligations that universities have related to teaching ethical data science.

Jennifer Priestley
Associate Dean, Kennesaw State University

Presentation Outline
00:00 – Introduction
04:00 – How we got to this Point – Data Science: (United States)
06:12 – How the Data Ecosystem is Evolving…
08:46 – Why Data Scientists Need to Understand Ethics – Issue 1: A few people can cause a great deal of harm
12:57 – Why Data Scientists Need to Understand Ethics – Issue 2: Lack of consent
22:10 – Why Data Scientists Need to Understand Ethics – Issue 3: Will the algorithm do what I think it does?
36:35 – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Data Science
39:52 – Where do we go next… what is the role of academia?
41:26 – Questions and Answers

For additional content from SAS Global Forum 2019, visit

Learn More about SAS Software
3 essential steps for AI ethics –
Training Path: Advanced Analytics – Data Scientist –
SAS® Global Certification Program –


SAS is a trusted analytics powerhouse for organizations seeking immediate value from their data. A deep bench of analytics solutions and broad industry knowledge keep our customers coming back and feeling confident. With SAS®, you can discover insights from your data and make sense of it all. Identify what’s working and fix what isn’t. Make more intelligent decisions. And drive relevant change.

SAS Customer Support ►
SAS Communities ►
Facebook ►
Twitter ►
LinkedIn ►
Blogs ►



Comment List

  • SAS Users
    January 2, 2021

    How can these people even sleep at night?

  • SAS Users
    January 2, 2021

    Great presentation, thank you for doing this. One point on the (very interesting concept of) "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs": ETHICS should be at the bottom (foundation), not as the last level (where Maslow put "self actualization"). Before any data science effort, the ethical perspective should come before anything else (is the effort that is being addressed with data science ethical?). Your very presentation implies that lack of forethought lead to a lot of ethical issues in these high profile data abuses. So if we use the Maslow hiearchy metaphor, ETHICS should be the foundation of the pyramid. Just like in research you go to the IRB first, this new order or priority will be key to establish in business culture. For the time being, "getting things done" reigns supreme over "doing the right things".

  • SAS Users
    January 2, 2021

    Thanks, I like this conversation a lot, I appreciate for sharing it

Write a comment