Data Science: How Do We Achieve the Most Good and Least Harm?


The Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) uses methods from statistics and computer science to help answer questions about mass violence. Examples from HRDAG’s work will be presented to illustrate the many steps involved, including evaluating data quality, determining what’s missing from observed data, conducting analyses that withstand adversarial political and/or legal climates, and explaining analyses to non-technical audiences, including judges and prosecutors. The potential harm that can be done when inappropriately analyzing and interpreting incomplete and imperfect data will be especially highlighted, including questions such as: How can we develop approaches to help us identify the cases where analytical tools can do the most good, and avoid or mitigate the most harm? We propose starting with two simple questions: What is the cost of being wrong? And who bears that cost?


As the Executive Director of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, Megan Price designs strategies and methods for statistical analysis of human rights data for projects in a variety of locations including Guatemala, Colombia, and Syria. Her work in Guatemala includes serving as the lead statistician on a project in which she analyzed documents from the National Police Archive; she has also contributed analyses submitted as evidence in two court cases in Guatemala. Her work in Syria includes serving as the lead statistician and author on three reports, commissioned by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), on documented deaths in that country. Megan is a member of the Technical Advisory Board for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court and a Research Fellow at the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Human Rights Science. She is the Human Rights Editor for the Statistical Journal of the International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS) and on the editorial board of Significance Magazine. She earned her doctorate in biostatistics and a Certificate in Human Rights from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She also holds a master of science degree and bachelor of science degree in Statistics from Case Western Reserve University.

Open Data Science




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