New industry standards for data misuse and AI bias

A new alliance has been formed to create industry-wide professional standards for data science, including rules about the misuse of data and bias in artificial intelligence.

‘The Alliance for Data Science Professionals’ is defining the standards needed to ensure an ethical and well-governed approach.

At the moment there is no professional framework for those working in the data science field.

The new industry-wide standards, which will be finalised by Autumn, look to address current issues such as data breaches, the misuse of data in modelling, and bias in artificial intelligence.

The Alliance members, who initially convened in July 2020, are BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), the Operational Research Society, the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, The Alan Turing Institute and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). They are supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society.

“We are excited to be working with our alliance partners to define and manage standards in the burgeoning area of data science,” said Paul Fletcher, chief executive, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. “The pandemic period has further demonstrated that data science provides significant value in creating insight and improving decision making.”

Governed by a memorandum of understanding, the Alliance is committed to:

• Defining the standards of professional competence and behaviour expected of people who work with data which impacts lives and livelihoods. These include data scientists, data engineers, data analysts and data stewards.
• Using an open-source process to maintain and update the standards.
• Delivering these standards as data science certifications offered by the Alliance members to their professional members, with processes to hold certified members accountable for their professional status in this area.
• Using these standards as criteria for Alliance members to accredit data science degrees, and data science modules of associated degrees, as contributing to certification.
• Creating a single searchable public register of certified data science professionals.

“Data science can be a powerful tool for businesses and governments,” said Stian Westlake, chief executive of the Royal Statistical Society. “But just like established fields like engineering or medicine, it needs good standards to ensure it is used wisely and well.”

Westlake added: “The Alliance will play an important role in setting standards for those working in data science to help organisations make the most of cutting-edge new approaches, and so that we can all have confidence that our data is in good hands.”

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