DiLCo Ethics Lectures 2021
On 8 October 2021, DiLCo organised three online lectures on digital ethics, covering ethical issues in digital and multi-sited ethnography as well as natural language processing.
The DiLCo Ethics Lectures 2021 have been recorded and are now available on the Lecture2Go platform of the Universität Hamburg. All recorded lectures can be accessed via the DiLCo archive.
The abstracts of the past lectures and biographies of the speakers can be found below.
Ethics as a social process – metascientific reflexivity in multi-sited online and offline ethnographic research
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
In this talk, I address the topic of ethics in multi-sited online and offline ethnographic research. I approach ethics as a social process that unfolds over time, which can be studied by paying attention to both researchers and participants’ metascientific reflections. In the talk, I deal with ethical dilemmas related to different stages of the research process; i.e. from the initiation of the ethnographic fieldwork to the analysis and final publication. Firstly, I focus on processes of gaining informed consent and negotiating access to participants and field sites. Secondly, I address the construction and negotiation of social relations and field roles in face-to-face and online participant observation, for instance, how researchers deal with uncertainty, conflicting interests and social tensions in the field. Finally, I shed light on the ethical aspects associated with the representation of the participants after the fieldwork; e.g. in the process of data selection and during the analysis.
Andreas Candefors Stæhr is Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen. His research focuses on the social and communicative functions of social media in people’s everyday lives, with particular attention to the topics of family socialization, sociolinguistic normativity and the intersections of digitally mediated and face-to-face modes of communication. He is currently the PI of the collaborative research project SoMeFamily (Language and social media in the family) and he has published his work in journals such as Language & Communication, Pragmatics and Society and Discourse, Context & Media.
Ethics in natural language processing
Sorbonne Université, France
In the last decade, Natural language processing (NLP) applications have become part of our daily lives. Firms like Google, Facebook or Amazon have devoted huge efforts into research and are present in all NLP conferences. The distance between researchers and users has shrunk and a number of ethical issues started to show: stereotypes are repeated and amplified by machine learning systems, NLP is used for ethically-questionable purposes like automatic sentencing, and more or less experimental tools are forced on users without taking their limitations into account. In this presentation, I'll come back on the evolution of the subject of ethics in the field of NLP and will detail some of the issues we are faced with, as well as our actions to tackle them. Finally, I'll propose a more systematic view on the subject that allows to uncover some blind spots that we'll have to address if we really want to do responsible NLP.
Karën Fort is Associate Professor at Sorbonne Université and does her research at the LORIA laboratory in Nancy. Her primary research interest is manual annotation for natural language processing (NLP), which she extended to crowdsourcing annotation, in particular using Games With A Purpose (GWAPs). She also developed an interest in ethics in NLP and organized the first colloquium on the subject in 2014, in France, followed by a national workshop (ETeRNAL) and a special issue of the TAL journal in 2016. She initiated the French “Ethics and NLP” blog (http://www.ethique-et-tal.org/) and a survey on ethics in NLP (Fort & Couillault, 2016). She was co-chair of the first two ethics committees in the field (EMNLP 2020 and NAACL 2021) and is co-chair of the newly created ethics committee of the association for computational linguistics (ACL). She is a member of the Sorbonne IRB.
Ethics as Method: Reviewing dilemmas and choices in an age of data and automated decision making
RMIT University, Australia and Aarhus University, Denmark
What complicates our understanding of “ethical” research practice in contemporary contexts where automated systems play an agential role in what researchers are able to observe/collect? What individual or trained habits of method or disciplinary (infra)structures impact the researcher’s eventual construction of “what counts” as data? In this lecture, Professor Markham takes an ethnographically-oriented perspective to discuss key considerations for decision-making in digitally-saturated research contexts. Focusing on the researcher’s deliberate or habitual choices at critical junctures, as well as the various nonhuman processes that can also function to influence what is eventually considered as data or evidence, Markham offers a framework for working beyond regulatory ethical models to build reflexivity into research practice.
Annette Markham is Professor of Media & Communication and Co-Director of DERC, the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT University, and a Professor MSO (on leave) in Information Studies and Digital Design at Aarhus University, Denmark. Markham’s philosophical work focuses on how disrupting the vocabularies around method can facilitate more creative, adaptive, and ethical practice for social research. She is internationally recognized for developing epistemological frameworks for rethinking ethics and research methods for digitally-saturated social contexts and is co-editor of Internet Inquiry: Conversations about method (with Nancy Baym, 2009, Sage). Her ethnographic studies of digital identity formation are well represented in her pioneering book Life Online: Researching real experience in virtual space (1998, Alta Mira). Her more recent research focuses on how metaphors influence the shape and potential of the Internet (Metaphors of Internet, co-edited with Kat Tiidenberg, 2020, Peter Lang). Markham is founder and director of Creating Future Heritage, a five-year arts-based digital literacy initiative. She founded and has facilitated the annual Skagen Institute Workshops for fostering creative and transgressive methods, and is founder and director of the international Future Making Research Consortium, a network for contemplating methods and ethics for building better futures. Her work can be found at annettemarkham.com
DiLCo (‘Digital language variation in context’) is a 3-year international research network initiated in 2021 at the University of Hamburg. The network brings together researchers from Europe and USA with expertise in computational, interactional, and ethnographic approaches to digital language and linguistics. It aims to provide a platform for the development of interdisciplinary ideas in digital language and communication research, and for early-career capacity building.