Article by B. Tyr Fothergill, William Knight, Bernd Carsten Stahl and Inga Ulnicane.
Published in Frontiers in Neuroinformatics.
Current discussions of the ethical aspects of big data are shaped by concerns regarding the social consequences of both the widespread adoption of machine learning and the ways in which biases in data can be replicated and perpetuated. We instead focus here on the ethical issues arising from the use of big data in international neuroscience collaborations. Neuroscience innovation relies upon neuroinformatics, large-scale data collection and analysis enabled by novel and emergent technologies. Each step of this work involves aspects of ethics, ranging from concerns for adherence to informed consent or animal protection principles and issues of data re-use at the stage of data collection, to data protection and privacy during data processing and analysis, and issues of attribution and intellectual property at the data-sharing and publication stages. Significant dilemmas and challenges with far-reaching implications are also inherent, including reconciling the ethical imperative for openness and validation with data protection compliance and considering future innovation trajectories or the potential for misuse of research results. Furthermore, these issues are subject to local interpretations within different ethical cultures applying diverse legal systems emphasising different aspects. Neuroscience big data require a concerted approach to research across boundaries, wherein ethical aspects are integrated within a transparent, dialogical data governance process. We address this by developing the concept of “responsible data governance,” applying the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) to the challenges presented by the governance of neuroscience big data in the Human Brain Project (HBP).