Applied systemic practices in AI and Data Ethics


  • Peter Brownell Systemic Data Ethics


Artificial Intelligence may be one of the most powerful tools at our disposal as we address the great, systemic challenges of the coming years. It may also be a major player in our downfall. Effective systemic approaches to the design, operation and governance of AI may be a key to our survival. 


Systemic Data Ethics applies systemic practices in the field of AI and big data. We combine system maps, facilitation, software tools and psychology to work at three levels: Governance, operational functions and individual capabilities.   


One of our key tools is the Systemic Data Ethics Framework. Built on ideas from many sources, including Integral Theory and the Zodiac and the Tarot, this model defines a structured overview of the field, highlighting 12 interconnected domains of practice. As a taxonomy it enables the integration and alignment of existing frameworks and data, while its geometric structure allows us to build diagnostic tools, frame ethical choices and infer possible future scenarios.


Practically working with systemic models requires effective meeting practices that can cope with non-linear, emergent knowledge. We help teams develop their facilitation skills and understand different decision making and non-hierarchical operations. (We are also licenced and certified by ForHumanity as Independent Auditors of AI systems - balancing our emergent ways of working with some hard edged compliance.) 


Nurturing systemic ways of working, in real life, cannot be successful without developing the capacity of individuals to work and think in systems. Our exploration of the experience of working within more systemic environments has led us to develop training to cultivate the core skills required - starting with active listening.


Well, that’s been a lot of grand statements. I’ll share the work we’re doing to make it real. Underneath is all lies one motivating belief:  To effectively address systemic problems, we need systemically capable organizations, composed of systemically able individuals equipped with systemic tools.