Ethical Considerations in AI Development for Data Scientists and Data Engineers

Ethical Considerations in AI Development for Data Scientists and Data Engineers

Opinion 09 Mar 2024 8 minutes 1,633 words

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our daily lives is no longer a matter of “if” but “how.” Working in this field, we need to be aware of the ethical issues and concerns in the AI/ML field.

The Sakura team takes a look at the ethical considerations crucial for the responsible development and deployment of AI technologies. The team provides and introduction to the ethical concern and then we give some tips on tools, approaches, and frameworks for you to consider.

Core Concepts


Transparency in AI necessitates the development of explainable models. Data scientists are tasked with creating algorithms that not only perform tasks efficiently but also in a manner that is understandable to end-users. This involves technical strategies like feature importance scoring and model-agnostic methods to explain predictions. Additionally, adopting open standards for model documentation, such as model cards, enhances transparency.

  • Implement Explainable AI (XAI) Techniques: Use tools and frameworks designed for XAI to make models more interpretable, such as LIME or SHAP.

  • Documentation: Adopt comprehensive documentation practices for models, including model cards that detail use cases, performance benchmarks, and limitations.


The concept of accountability in AI focuses on establishing clear lines of responsibility for the outcomes of AI systems. From a technical perspective, this involves implementing rigorous testing phases, including ethical audits and impact assessments. Moreover, the development of AI should follow a lifecycle approach that includes continuous monitoring and the ability to retract or adjust systems based on performance and ethical considerations.

  • Ethical Impact Assessments: Regularly conduct assessments to evaluate the ethical implications of AI systems, considering potential harms and benefits.

  • Design for Auditability: Ensure AI systems are designed in a way that their decisions can be audited, facilitating accountability.


Ensuring fairness requires addressing and mitigating biases in AI systems. This involves technical measures like bias detection methodologies, fairness-aware modeling, and inclusive data collection strategies. Techniques such as adversarial training and fairness constraints are critical for minimizing bias in machine learning models.

  • Bias Detection and Mitigation: Utilize tools and methodologies to identify and mitigate biases in datasets and models, like AI Fairness 360.

  • Diverse Data Collection: Actively seek out diverse datasets to train models, reducing the risk of embedding biases into AI systems.


Privacy considerations demand the implementation of data protection techniques from the earliest stages of AI development, a practice known as Privacy by Design. Technical methods like differential privacy, federated learning, and secure multi-party computation play a crucial role in safeguarding personal data used by AI systems.

  • Adopt Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PETs): Use technologies like federated learning and differential privacy to protect user data.

  • Data Anonymization: Before processing data, ensure sensitive information is anonymized or pseudonymized to protect individual identities.

Safety and Security

The safety and security of AI systems encompass protecting against external threats and ensuring the reliability of AI operations. Technical approaches include robustness testing, adversarial training, and the implementation of security protocols to prevent data breaches and ensure the integrity of AI systems.

  • Robustness Testing: Regularly conduct stress tests and simulations to identify vulnerabilities in AI systems.

  • Secure Development Lifecycle: Implement a secure development lifecycle that incorporates security best practices from the initial design phase.

Societal Concerns

Job Displacement

Data scientists and engineers should engage with the broader implications of AI, including job displacement. This involves developing AI systems that complement human abilities and prioritize augmentative over substitutive uses of technology. Technical education and the reskilling of the workforce are also crucial components of addressing this concern.

  • Develop Augmentative AI: Focus on creating AI systems that augment human capabilities rather than replace human jobs.

  • Reskilling Programs: Advocate for and participate in the development of reskilling and upskilling programs for workers affected by AI automation.

Surveillance and Privacy Invasions

The use of AI in surveillance raises significant ethical concerns. Technical measures such as anonymization techniques and stringent data access controls can mitigate privacy invasions. Furthermore, ethical guidelines should govern the deployment of AI in surveillance to ensure respect for individual privacy and rights.

  • Limit Surveillance Applications: Exercise caution and ethical consideration when developing AI for surveillance, prioritizing individual privacy.

  • Consent and Transparency: Ensure clear consent mechanisms are in place for data collection, and be transparent about how surveillance data is used.

Bias and Discrimination

Combatting bias and discrimination in AI is an ongoing technical challenge. It requires comprehensive data analysis to identify and mitigate biases in training datasets and model predictions. Implementing fairness metrics and adjusting algorithms accordingly are critical steps in developing equitable AI systems.

  • Continuous Bias Monitoring: Establish processes for the ongoing monitoring and correction of biases in AI systems.

  • Inclusive Design Teams: Foster diversity within AI development teams to bring multiple perspectives into the design process, reducing the risk of overlooking potential biases.

Autonomy and Human Dignity

Preserving human autonomy and dignity in the face of AI advancement demands a careful balance. Technical solutions include developing AI systems that enhance human decision-making rather than replace it, ensuring human oversight of AI systems, and prioritizing the development of AI that respects human values and ethics.

  • Human-Centric Design: Design AI systems that enhance human decision-making, ensuring that humans remain in control of critical decisions.

  • Ethical Guidelines: Develop and adhere to ethical guidelines that prioritize human dignity and autonomy in the deployment of AI.

Social Imperatives


Achieving inclusivity in AI development involves the technical community in ensuring diverse datasets and perspectives are represented in AI models. This requires a concerted effort to identify and correct imbalances in data and to engage with diverse communities in the development process.

  • Engage with Underrepresented Groups: Actively involve diverse groups in the design and testing phases of AI development to ensure systems are inclusive.

  • Bias Audits by External Parties: Regularly have AI systems audited by external parties to identify and address inclusivity issues.


Leveraging AI for sustainability requires a focus on developing energy-efficient algorithms and using AI to address environmental challenges. Technical research into reducing the computational requirements of AI models and applying AI to areas like climate modeling and resource management is crucial.

  • Optimize Model Efficiency: Focus on creating more energy-efficient AI models to reduce the environmental impact of training and deployment.

  • AI for Good: Prioritize projects where AI can contribute to sustainability, such as optimizing energy consumption or predicting climate change impacts.

Public Engagement

Fostering public engagement with AI involves the technical community in making AI research and development accessible and understandable to the public. This includes open-access publications, public lectures, and the involvement of the public in ethical discussions related to AI.

  • Open Dialogue: Engage in open dialogues with the public about AI developments, providing clear and accessible explanations of AI technologies.

  • Public Participation: Encourage public participation in the AI development process, including feedback mechanisms on AI systems.

Global Cooperation

Global cooperation on AI ethics requires the technical community to engage with international standards and frameworks. This involves contributing to the development of global ethical guidelines for AI and adopting international standards in local AI development projects.

  • Adhere to International Standards: Actively engage with and adhere to international ethical standards and frameworks for AI.

  • Cross-Border Collaborations: Participate in cross-border collaborations to share best practices and harmonize ethical AI development efforts.

Legislative Requirements

Data Protection Laws

Compliance with data protection laws like GDPR is a technical and legal necessity for AI development. This involves implementing data governance practices, ensuring data minimization, and embedding privacy-enhancing technologies into AI systems.

  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of changes in data protection laws and regulations to ensure compliance.

  • Data Protection by Design: Embed data protection measures into the AI development process from the start.

AI Specific Legislation

Navigating AI-specific legislation requires staying informed about legal developments and integrating legal requirements into the technical development process. This may involve adapting AI systems to meet regulatory standards for transparency, accountability, and fairness.

We see a big impact coming for AI systems especially considering items such as the EU AI Act.

  • Regulatory Compliance: Develop compliance checklists based on AI-specific legislation and ensure all AI systems meet these requirements.

  • Legal Consultation: Engage with legal experts in AI regulation to navigate the evolving landscape of AI-specific laws.

International Standards and Frameworks

Engaging with international standards and frameworks is essential for ensuring that AI development aligns with global ethical norms. Technical contributions to standard-setting bodies and the adoption of international guidelines in local projects are key strategies.

  • Contribute to Standards Development: Participate in the development of international standards to ensure they are practical and reflect the needs of the technical community.

  • Implement Global Guidelines: Adopt and implement guidelines developed by international bodies to ensure ethical alignment across projects.

Industry Standards and Self-Regulation

Finally, industry standards and self-regulation represent a commitment by the technical community to ethical AI development. This involves adopting best practices, engaging in ethical self-assessment, and participating in industry-wide efforts to establish ethical guidelines for AI.

  • Best Practices Adoption: Actively adopt and contribute to industry best practices for ethical AI development.

  • Self-Assessment Tools: Utilize ethical self-assessment tools to regularly evaluate AI systems against industry standards and ethical benchmarks.

Work With Our Team

The ethical development and deployment of AI technologies are complex and multifaceted challenges that require the concerted effort of data scientists, engineers, policymakers, and the public. By addressing the core concepts, societal concerns, social imperatives, and legislative requirements outlined above, the technical community can lead the way in ensuring that AI serves as a force for good, enhancing our lives while respecting our values and rights. As we move forward, the integration of ethical considerations into every aspect of AI development and deployment will be critical to realizing the full potential of these transformative technologies.

Let’s work together to shape a future where technology enhances our lives while upholding our values and rights. Reach out now to start a conversation about how we can make a positive impact together.