IPE Seed Grants 2018-2019


AI and the Future of Society

Faculty: Ulrike Schaede (Professor, School of Global Policy & Strategy)

The Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology (JFIT) is launching a research program on “The Digitalization Disruption and the Future of Society”, with the goal to analyze the ongoing changes associated with AI, IOT, industry 4.0 and society 5.0, with a focus on the social science perspective and the global comparison. On April 27-28, 2018, JFIT will hold a conference to bring together scholars and practitioners from the U.S., Germany, and Japan, to discuss the role of global social science research in the ongoing discourse on the future of regulation and cybersecurity, autonomous systems, ethics (in all its dimensions: bioethics, neuroethics, business ethics, etc.), business, work, and society. Based on that first meeting, JFIT will structure an ongoing research project around these issues, in connection with collaborators in Asia and Europe.

 

Building Research Integrity & Capacity: Strategies to Increase Access and Adoption

Faculty: Camille Nebeker (Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health), Araceli Lopez-Arenas (Program Manager for the Collaborative for Advancing Professional and Research Integrity), and Susan Hagos

Community Health Workers (CHWs), also known as Patient Navigators or Promotores, are trusted community health advocates. In addition to providing health services within communities where health disparities are prevalent, they also work with academic researchers and community partners to design and implement culturally appropriate health research. While CHWs are considered an essential part of the research team, most have received little or no formal, academic training in research methods or study design. This lack of training may contribute to protocol deviations which, subsequently can impact data fidelity and research integrity. The Building Research Integrity and Capacity (BRIC) research ethics training was developed to provide training in basic research concepts and human research ethics to CHWs/Promotores. BRIC consists of eight modules and is available in both English and Spanish. BRIC is now in its dissemination and implementation (D&I) phase, which involves identifying: 1- organizations that may benefit from access to the BRIC training and, 2- barriers and facilitators that influence successful access, adoption and implementation. The IPE grant funding will be used to convene an interactive workshop with key stakeholders involved in the design and conduct of community and clinic-based research interventions utilizing the CHW model. The results will inform how to best scale-up efforts for adoption of the novel BRIC research ethics training. It will also provide an opportunity for stakeholders (community members, academics, and IRBs) to convene in the same physical space, fostering cross-sector collaboration to inform D&I best practices.

 

Ethical and Faith Perceptions of Interventions That Have Public Health Implications in Less Developed Countries

Faculty: Wael Al-Delaimy (Professor, Family Medicine and Public Health)

Ethically challenging interventions might have far reaching public health impact and are perceived differently according to the social and religious beliefs of communities in less developed countries.  Ethical values driven from religious beliefs and faiths in the East can offer valuable input and guidance in dealing with such interventions in the context of the interest of public health. Scholars representative of such cultures and beliefs need to be engaged and involved in the process. This grant will support a symposium on campus to discuss the above based on the experience of Islam as one of the major Eastern faiths and building on Jordan’s NIH Fogarty Training Program in Responsible Conduct of Research that is led by Dr. Al-Delaimy. The event will be focused on public health and responsible conduct of research training in less developed countries to address scientific innovation and ethical and religious implications to society. The symposium will shed light on molecular science, social science and population science and how the ethical and societal beliefs in different societies globally might shape these technological advancements when they have public health impact. The discussion will focus on harm vs benefit and how might this guide implementation of collaborations between scientists from predominately Western Christian background with scientists and faith and community leaders from different faiths, in this case Islam, but can be extended to other Eastern Faiths such as Hinduism and Buddhism. 

 

Ethics and Policy Implications of Algorithms and Big Data

Faculty: Akos Rona-Tas (Professor, Department of Sociology)

The workshop will address the rise of Big Data; the combination of the production and retrieval of large amounts of digital information with powerful algorithms on a hardware platform of ever-increasing capacity. It will gather social and computer scientists, activists, and practitioners interested in the ethics and policy implications of this technological revolution. We will survey the achievements, promises and technical challenges of Big Data, its effects on social inequalities and democracy, the cultural shift it is generating in the way we value knowledge, create art and conduct science, and the ways we may control it and influence its progress.

 

Ethics, Theatre, and Science: Cross‐Disciplinary Fostering of Ethics and Science Conversations

Faculty: Michael Kalichman (Director, Research Ethics Program) and Emily Roxworthy (Professor, Department of Theatre & Dance)

The goal of this project is to use staged readings of academic dramas to facilitate conversations about ethics and scholarly research. The underlying premise is that a culture of ethics is one in which members of the scientific community recognize and discuss the ethical dimensions of the practice and application of science. Public performances of two plays will be staged in the 2018 Winter and Spring quarters at UC San Diego. One of the two plays is titled “Purely Academic,” written by David Abramson, an Australian computer scientist. The second is the play “Margin of Error,” written by a San Diego-based professional playwright, Will Cooper of the Roustabouts Theatre Company. Two staged readings by alumni and faculty from the UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance are planned for Abramson’s play. A single staged reading is being scheduled for Cooper’s play with the original cast. The play readings will include guided conversations between the actors and the audience about what they have seen, what it means, whether it is consistent with their experience, how best to address similar problems when they occur, and how to protect against such problems in the first place. The Principal Investigators, Drs. Roxworthy and Kalichman propose to assess interest, engagement, and the value of having scientists and other academics engage in this approach, and then collaborate in writing about the experience from their perspectives as scholars focused, respectively, on the performance theory of political theatre and effective pedagogy for the teaching of ethics in science.

 

Evidence and Scientific Method: Rigor versus Use

Faculty: Nancy Cartwright (Distinguished Professor, Department of Philosophy)

IPE will sponsor an interdisciplinary workshop winter term 2019 exploring the trade-off between epistemic values and use values and among varying use values themselves in the construction of scientific research in the human sciences, broadly conceived (including economic, social, medical and public health sciences). For example, educators need to know whether an intervention (like the inverted classroom or the ABRA on-line literacy program) will produce the outcomes they hope for in their school with their students, implemented in the way and under the interpretation that their school would implement it, which they may not know how to pinpoint.  An RCT-based unbiased estimate of the outcomes of a probably not-so-similar intervention in some school elsewhere or a meta-analytic average of such estimates is hard for them to make use of.  Participants to include: from UCSD, Nancy Cartwright, Philosophy; Amanda Datnow, Education Studies; Tarik Benmarhnia, Family Medicine & Public Health; from elsewhere, John Douard, public defender, New Jersey & Rutgers Univ.; Angus Deaton, economist, USC & Princeton.

 

Examining Views of Geneticists and Clinicians on Racial Classification and Genetic Ancestry

Faculty: Amy Non (Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology), Justin Meyer (Assistant Professor, Division of Biological Sciences), Angela Booker (Associate Professor, Department of Communication)

The increasing availability of genetic ancestry information is changing the way biomedical researchers design treatment plans and conduct genetics research. Despite scientific consensus that there is no biological basis to race, physicians often use racial information in their practice while geneticists continue to use racial categories as biologically meaningful ways to design their studies and analyze their data. The proposed study is an analysis of the use of ancestry-related genetic information by clinicians and geneticists. Specifically, we are interested in the ways in which access to genetic ancestry and phenotypic data (e.g. photographs) can influence how biomedical researchers treat patients, design their studies, and classify others into racial/ethnic groups for research or treatment purposes. During interviews with clinicians, we will show mock clinical files with patient photographs, and ask how they would diagnose and design a treatment plan for each patient. Then we will show the mock genetic ancestry data for each patient, and ask if their diagnosis or treatment plan would change after viewing this data. And finally, we will ask each clinician how they would classify the patients into racial categories, how they define race personally and in their professional practice, and how racial stereotypes come into play in their work. We will ask similar questions of genetics researchers, as well as questions about study design and how they would use genetic ancestry information in data analysis and interpretation. In addition to generating empirical data for ethicists to consider in use of genetic ancestry data, these findings will build upon our ongoing anthropological investigations of the role of genetic ancestry in racial health disparities.

 

Moral Responsibility Working Group and Conference

Faculty: Dana Nelkin (Professor, Department of Philosophy) and Manuel Vargas (Professor, Department of Philosophy)

The IPE grant provides support for an inaugural conference of the UCSD Moral Responsibility Working Group. The UCSD Moral Responsibility Working Group aims to build a consortium that spurs interdisciplinary research on the theoretical foundations and practical dimensions of blame and culpability, as well as the associated legal, psychological, and social practices. The inaugural conference will focus on the moral significance of “nudges,” or efforts to shape the choice architecture of individuals in pro-social ways, for our understanding of people’s culpability for their choices. Nudges have received a great deal of attention in behavioral economics and public policy circles. However, the implications of
nudges for our understanding of the praiseworthiness and blameworthiness of individual agents acting under nudges has received virtually no systematic attention. This conference will advance our understanding of the moral and political significance of choices under nudging.

 

Probabilistic Moral Judgments in Action: Decisions in Wartime and Driving

Faculty: Dana Nelkin (Professor, Department of Philosophy), Samuel Rickless (Professor, Department of Philosophy), and Nicholas Christenfeld (Professor, Department of Psychology)

Moral philosophers are engaged in the challenging project of identifying the true ethical principles that capture how human beings are obligated and permitted to act. Is it permissible to kill one person in order to save five others? Is it permissible to act in a way that harms innocents as a foreseen but unintended byproduct of action that brings about a good outcome?  Is it permissible to program cars to minimize the number of persons killed in an accident?  The right answers to these questions are needed to know how we should act. Meanwhile, many psychologists are exploring what ethical principles people actually use when making morally charged decisions. Our project brings these two kinds of inquiries together in a systematic and rigorous way.

 In particular we have been investigating variations on the Doctrine of Double Effect, the thesis that it is harder to justify bringing about a harm as an intended means to an end than to justify bringing about a harm as a side-effect of pursuing the same end.  Most studies and thought-experiments that support moral principles, whether justificatory or explanatory, assume perfect knowledge of the consequences of one’s conduct.  In ordinary situations, however, people possess at best a probabilistic understanding of outcomes.  So it is probabilistic moral principles that are needed to provide moral guidance. We thus propose to study precisely what sorts of principles of this probabilistic kind to which people are actually committed.  Our project has three main parts.  The first involves constructing a model of human probabilistic moral reasoning.  The second rests on investigating whether such a model can be justified. The third includes the application of our findings to self-driving car policy, where prior empirical study has not included probabilistic assumptions. 

  

Where Is Uncertainty in Data Science?

Faculty: Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra (Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology)

In this project, I will study the role of uncertainty in data science and artificial intelligence. My research has two objectives: first, by collecting interviews with computer scientists and relevant discussions from the specialized literature, I aim to identify the distinct ‘cultures of uncertainty’ that characterize research in data science and artificial intelligence. For example, the project will look into how data scientists think about the nature, location, and role of uncertainty in their research and in the evolution of their profession. Second, by analyzing these distinct 'cultures of uncertainty', I will develop a taxonomy of uncertainties that may be helpful in communicating developments and innovations while being aware of the practical, ethical, and epistemic  limitations of machine learning and artificial intelligence