Ethics of data mining


Decision makers thirst for answers to questions. As more data is gathered, more questions are posed. Which customers are most likely to respond positively to a marketing campaign, product price change or new product offering? How will the competition react? Which loan applicants are most likely or least likely to default? The ability raise questions, even those that cannot currently be answered, is a characteristic of a good decision maker. Decision makers no longer have the luxury of making decisions based on gut feel or intuition. Decisions must be supported by data; otherwise decision makers can expect to be questioned by stockholders, reporters or attorneys in a court of law. Data mining can support and often direct decision makers in ways that are often counterintuitive. Although data mining can provide considerable insight, there is an inherent risk that what might be inferred may be private or ethically sensitive

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This paper was published in RIT Scholar Works.

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