Data Civics: A Response to the “Ethical Turn”

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In addition to the recent proliferation of approaches, programs, and research centers devoted to ethical data and Artifiical Intelligence, it is becoming increasingly clear that we need to directly address the political question. Ethics, while crucial, comprise only an indirect response to recent concerns about the political uses and misuses of data mining, AI, and automated processes. If we are concerned about the impact of digital media on democracy, it will be important to consider what it might mean to foster democratic arrangements for the collection and use of data, and for the institutions that perform these tasks. This essay considers what it might mean to supplement ethical concerns with political ones. It argues for the importance of considering the tensions between civic life and the wholesale commercialization of news, information, and entertainment platforms—and how these are exacerbated by the dominant economic model of data-driven hyper-customization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-567
Number of pages6
JournalTelevision and New Media
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • artificial intelligence
  • civics
  • data ethics
  • data mining
  • democracy
  • social media

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