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Data for Humanity – Open Letter


The letter, signed by many leading computer experts, calls for 5 ethical principles when using data: Do no harm, help create peaceful coexistence, help vulnerable people, preserve and improve natural environment, and help create a fair world without discrimination.



The open letter Data for Humanities - which calls for the use of five ethical principles for the use of data-  has reached more than 1,000 signatories.

The initiative was started by Roberto Zicari (professor at the University of Frankfurt) and Andrej Zwitter ( Professor at the University of Groningen) at the end of 2015, with the goal to bring people and institutions together who share the motivation to use data for the common good.

The letter suggests following five ethical principles when using data:

  • Do no harm
  • Use data to help create peaceful coexistence
  • Use data to help vulnerable people and people in need
  • Use data to preserve and improve natural environment
  • Use data to help create a fair world without discrimination

Among the most prominent supporters of this open letter are:

Vint Cerf (Google), one of "the fathers of the Internet";

Philippe Kahn, creator of the camera-phone and CEO of Fullpower;

Jeff Dean, Google Senior Fellow;

Steve Lohr (New York Times) Pulitzer Price Winner,

Nicholas B. Dirks, Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley;

Michael Hengartner, President, University of Zurich;

Oliver Günther, President, University of Potsdam;

Christopher McKee, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research, UC Berkeley;

and four members of the Independent Expert Advisory Group to the United Nations Secretary-General on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (IEAG):

Alex Pentland (MIT),

Robert Kirkpatrick (UN Global Pulse),

Enrico Giovannini (University of Rome), and

Nicolas de Cordes (Orange Group).

Prof. Zicari and Prof. Zwitter are now welcoming innovative ideas on how to integrate these principles in all area of our society.

The letter remains open for signatories and can be found here:

www.bigdata.uni-frankfurt.de/dataforhumanity/