Data Science Ethics

IFoA ethical and professional guidance on Data Science

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) has produced non-mandatory ethical and professional guidance on Data Science for IFoA members. It contains a number of illustrations and case studies to help members who may be faced with ethical or professional issues when carrying out data-science related work.

Download the guide here.

RSS and IFOA logos

The IFoA and the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) collaborated to explore the practical and ethical implications of data science. They published joint ethical guidance which was developed by the IFoA-RSS Joint Data Science Focus Group, compromising of RSS and IFoA volunteer members, and approved by the IFoA Regulation Board.

A guide for Ethical Data Science

Download the guide

Ethical guidance in data science

"Both the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) believe that the emergence of data science – the analysis of large, unstructured datasets often drawing on new kinds of data sources – is an important development.

Data science and artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to greatly enhance the tools and capacities of those working in statistics and actuarial science, providing new approaches to longstanding problems and opening up new sectors and industries to our members.

This great potential impact can lead to difficult ethical challenges for practitioners and calls for a need for strong ethical values and professionalism if the public interest is to be supported.

To that end, the RSS and the IFoA have worked together to jointly produce n ethical framework for their members and practitioners working in the field of data science.

Although this is a fast-moving field, we believe that a framework which draws upon established and reoccurring ethical themes concerning trustworthiness, professionalism, accountability, avoiding harm and the safeguarding of the public interest is well placed to provide helpful guidance for the field as it evolves.

By bringing our core professional values and commitment to the public interest, which lies at the heart of our respective professions to the field of AI and data science, our goal is to build public trust in the work that our members undertake through the application of data ethics.

Created with practitioners in mind, this guide seeks to provide practical support to members on ethical practice. Structured around five core ethical themes, the guide provides examples of common ethical challenges in the field and how they could be applied. We also provide a wealth of reference material; with links to a wide range of online tools, legal and regulatory reference points, and a host of other practical resources on our websites.

Although we’re sure that ethical theory and practice will continue to evolve, we’re pleased to be able to offer a strong framework for that evolution that aims to support the work of our members, maximise the benefits inherent in data science and protect the public interest."

John Taylor
IFoA President

Professional Skills training videos 

We have developed two online Professional Skills Training videos which focus on the challenges of working in a multidisciplinary project team to implement a pilot using AI technology for insurance renewal pricing. These videos can be accessed by members below.

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Professional skills online video
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Out of Pandora's Box

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If you any comments or queries in relation to the guidance, please contact us