How to Bring Better Ethics to Data Science

iStock In the waning months of the Bloomberg administration, I worked for a time in a New York City Hall data group within the Health and Human Services division. One day, we were given a huge dataset on homeless families, which included various characteristics such as the number and age of children and parents, previous ZIP code, the number and lengths of previous stays in homeless services, and race. The data went back 30 years. The goal of the project was to pair homeless families with the most appropriate services, and the first step was to build an algorithm that would predict how long a family would stay in the system given the characteristics we knew when they entered. So one of the first questions we asked was, which characteristics…


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