Tackling Today’s Data Dichotomy: Unveiling the Paradox of Abundant Supply and Restricted Access in the Quest for Social Equity

Article by Stefaan Verhulst: “…One of the ironies of this moment, however, is that an era of unprecedented supply is simultaneously an era of constricted access to data. Much of the data we generate is privately “owned,” hidden away in private or public sector silos, or otherwise inaccessible to those who are most likely to benefit from it or generate valuable insights. These restrictions on access are grafted onto existing socioeconomic inequalities, driven by broader patterns of exclusion and marginalization, and also exacerbating them. Critically, restricted or unequal access to data does not only harm individuals: it causes untold public harm by limiting the potential of data to address social ills. It also limits attempts to improve the output of AI both in terms of bias and trustworthiness.

In this paper, we outline two potential approaches that could help address—or at least mitigate—the harms: social licensing and a greater role for data stewards. While not comprehensive solutions, we believe that these represent two of the most promising avenues to introduce greater efficiencies into how data is used (and reused), and thus lead to more targeted, responsive, and responsible policymaking…(page 22-25)”.