IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - June 2019 - 49

Care also starts from respecting people and maintains a
focus on the duties and responsibilities to the individuals it deals with. By contrast, a Models of Threat
approach sees people as statistics, and treats the individuals on a list as threats, whether they have done anything or not, and regardless of whether they are victims
or perpetrators-thereby undermining their humanity.
Ethics of Care sees the individual as having rights and
deserving of respect, and sees those at risk as being in
need of care. An Ethics of Care does not disregard data,
but rather utilizes data in the service of performing a
duty in a manner that respects everyone involved. That
respect extends to taking the effort and care to understand a situation from multiple perspectives, including
that of citizens and working police - and how data gets
used and how it relates to the lived world. Indeed, as
the RAND researcher who studied the SSL says, data
and AI ethics is less about sophisticated data analysis
techniques and more about understanding context:
The biggest issue for those agencies considering
predictive policing is not the statistical model or
tool used to make forecasts. Getting predictions
that are somewhat reasonable in identifying
where or who is at greater risk of crime is fairly
easy. Instead, agencies should be most concerned about what they plan to do as a result [47].
There is a deeper lesson in this observation - the possibility of action, and the types of interventions envisioned,
can strongly shape data representations, and the value of
various kinds of data. While the current fashion is to collect any and all available data, in the hope that something useful might be inferable from it, there is still value
in considering what actions are available to address a
problem. This also means using data to find new means
of acting and intervening, and better understanding the
problem, rather than simply making the current means of
addressing a problem more efficient. Indeed, many AI
ethicists concerned about AGI worry that a hyper-efficient
AGI might be so good at achieving a set goal, or maximizing a certain value, that it does so to the great detriment of other human values.17 In the case of policing,
many current policies and tactical goals of policing could
be dangerous, unjust, and counter-productive if executed
with complete accuracy and efficiency. And most people
would not be happy living in a society where every violation of the law was detected and punished strictly and
with perfect efficiency. At least this would require rethinking many laws, policies and punishments [48]. In order to
better appreciate how actions and practice could or
17

Nick Bostrum's infamous paperclip maximizer, which quickly and efficiently turns the world into paperclips at the expense of everyone and
everything else, is an example of this.

JUNE 2019

∕

should shape data, particularly for AI ethics, we turn now
to a discussion of what the framework for AI ethics drawn
from an Ethics of Care would look like.

AI Ethics of Care: From Data to Models
to Implementation
The Ethics of Care has its own history, coming out of
feminist thought. As a general normative theory, it has
been criticized for failing to question what is right to
do,  in favor of seeking what is best to do in the
circumstances. But as an approach to practical applied
ethics, it has proven illuminating in areas such as educational and healthcare ethics [49], [50]. It is proposed
that policing, like education and healthcare, aims to
"serve and protect" the community with limited resources,18 and as such is also a good candidate for an Ethics
of Care. It is further proposed that in trying to improve
the management of a broad variety of governmental,
non-profit and commercial organizations with data-driven techniques, AI ethics can also draw upon the Ethics
of Care, as robot ethics has done [53]. In this section we
look at how an Ethics of Care can be applied to data science and AI, from data collection, to data modeling, to
18
The motto of the Los Angeles Police Department, "To Protect and To
Serve," was introduced in1955 following a contest at their police academy,
won by Officer Joseph S. Dorobek [28]. It, and its variants, have since been
adopted as the motto of numerous police departments across the United
States. But what do these words really mean? The topic has been much discussed within police departments. In 1998, an Ohio police officer offered
his views in Police Magazine:

While what constitutes "protect" may be open to some debate, it
seems to be more clear-cut than does the word "serve." It's obvious
that we protect the citizens and their property from the criminal element. The word "serve" on the other hand is somewhat ambiguous.
What "to serve" may mean to one law enforcement agency it may
mean quite the opposite to another. "To serve" also takes on a different meaning depending upon department size. For example, I know a
chief in a small village not far from the city where I work. He recently
had a call to "assist the woman." We all get these types of calls, but
his was to assist the woman in re-hanging her draperies! To serve? Is
that what people want? A tax supported drapery service? [51].
There are two striking aspects to this passage and the article, which also
seems representative of the views of many police officers, and much of the
public. The first striking aspect is the extent to which "service" is framed as
a question of resources. Of course, the police are public servants, as are
other agents and officers of government. But they also have a specific function, and should have priorities within that function. Indeed, the rest of the
article is devoted to discussing the way nonemergency calls are overloading 9-1-1 operators and keeping police from getting to real emergencies. "In
many small cities, the police are the only visible and accessible arm of the
local government available after 5 p.m. and on weekends. Because of that
we become the water department, the street department, the dog warden,
etc. - and people begin to expect it from us." [51].
Of course, the "public" within the concept of public servant should be
understood to include everyone in the community, not just "citizens" or
"taxpayers" or even just "law abiding" people. Police have a duty to serve
everyone, including the "criminal element."
Following several court and Supreme Court decisions in the United
States, there is now a legal precedent that police do not have a specific
legal duty to protect, or even to enforce the law or court orders. At least
in terms of having a duty to lend aid or to protect a particular individual,
a police officer is not compelled by the law to intervene, put themselves at
risk, or act to enforce applicable laws. The court has upheld the discretion
of police to decide when and where to enforce the law or protect individuals from danger [52].

IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

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IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - June 2019

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