Data leaks. Life-altering decisions made by algorithm. Voter manipulation. In this environment, ethics take on an increasingly critical role in computing. As engineers, not ethicists, how should we proceed? Nothing is ever as simple in practice as it seems in theory. Laura Thomson shares Mozilla’s approach to data ethics, review, and stewardship, including practical open source guidelines for lean data and examples of when the company has gotten it right (and wrong).
Laura Thomson is senior director of engineering for Firefox engineering operations at Mozilla and serves on the board of ISRG, the nonprofit behind Let’s Encrypt. Laura has held a number of engineering roles in her decade at Mozilla. Previously, she was principal and vice president at OmniTI as well as an engineer, consultant, and computer science academic. She has written several books on various open source technologies, including PHP and MySQL Web Development (with Luke Welling, her husband). Laura is from Melbourne, Australia, but now lives with her family on a rustic horse farm in Maryland, where she relaxes by indulging in manual labor and other rural pursuits.
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