Experimental ethics and observational data

Challenge trials, ethics approvals, and surveillance.

Overt experimental ethics


Pub test experimental ethics

  • The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics:

    The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics says that when you observe or interact with a problem in any way, you can be blamed for it. At the very least, you are to blame for not doing more. Even if you don’t make the problem worse, even if you make it slightly better, the ethical burden of the problem falls on you as soon as you observe it. In particular, if you interact with a problem and benefit from it, you are a complete monster.


Knit these together with observational data to argue that experimental ethics imply the demand for a pervasive surveillance state.


Athey, Susan. 2017. Beyond Prediction: Using Big Data for Policy Problems.” Science 355 (6324): 483–85.
Cooper, A. Feder, and Ellen Abrams. 2021. Emergent Unfairness in Algorithmic Fairness-Accuracy Trade-Off Research.” In Proceedings of the 2021 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society, 46–54. New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery.
Dreger, Alice Domurat. 2015. Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science. New York: Penguin Press.
Killingley, Ben, Alex Mann, Mariya Kalinova, Alison Boyers, Niluka Goonawardane, Jie Zhou, Kate Lindsell, et al. 2022. Safety, Tolerability and Viral Kinetics During SARS-CoV-2 Human Challenge.”

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