Rocky Coast Research deploys its team of leading researchers and practitioners in computer science, law, and public policy to help companies of all sizes build technologies that are fair to users, accountable to their actions, transparent to review, and ethical to the public. See our page on responsible technology for more details on our philosophy and why responsible technology deployment is good for your business.
We are more than happy to work with our clients to build a relationship that suits their needs. Rocky Coast Research can be of assistance as technical experts anywhere information technology touches legal issues, public policy, or ethics. Please contact us to discuss how we can help.
To facilitate that discussion, we are pleased to suggest services along the lines below.
Models derived from data are not objective, and will reflect biases in the collection and processing of the data. Data science does not necessarily create objective decisions, but can replicate biases both in the data and in making use of the data. These biases can constitute impermissable, illegal discrimination in some cases. All models should be examined to understand their assumptions and biases. Further, models which appear to users or data scientists as "black boxes" can be difficult to evaluate for fairness or even functional correctness.
Rocky Coast Research can help by working with you to conduct algorithmic audits and data ethics reviews of existing or new projects. We can also help determine when formal impact assessments are necessary, such as under the GDPR, and help conduct these assessments. Such reviews can help identify bias and other ethics issues in data gathering, data processing, and in subsequent automated decision-making. Further, we can help you to define a data governance regime that is cognizant of data bias and ethics issues in order to make responsible use of data for new efforts going forward. Additionally, we can help prepare data impact assessments, similar to environmental impact assessments or safety cases, which are increasingly viewed as the gold standard in demonstrating responsibility in technology and building trust with customers, users, regulators, and the public.
Data protection impact assessments are required by law in many cases, especially under the GDPR, and may need to cover data bias considerations to be considered complete. Additionally, the GDPR may require that certain outputs of automated decision-making systems be justified by explanations or interpretations. And in some cases, it is necessary to provide for the contestation of incorrect outputs of models and software.
Bring world-class experts from Rocky Coast Research, such as our founder, Dr. Joshua A. Kroll, to train your lawyers, compliance teams, data scientists, software engineers, or anyone about issues in responsible technology development as well as fairness, accountability, and transparency in computer systems. Or schedule a workshop day, where we work with your team through a combination of training and working sessions to make learning actionable right away. Our training programs can be tailored to your needs, but can cover topics such as:
We can also present at internal workshops, training days, or customer events and give an overview of the area, commentary on recent developments, and an update on the latest research.
With expert computer scientists and software engineers trained in many disparate areas of technology, including the cutting edge in machine learning and data science fairness, privacy-enhancing technologies, and the latest in security and cryptography, Rocky Coast Research can help you design your products to be sensitive to concerns such as privacy, legal compliance, nondiscrimination, fairness, transparency, and more. Privacy by design has become a gold standard for developing systems that meet privacy requirements. We believe that the same approach must be taken to enhance other values of concern, including security, fairness and nondiscrimination, and transparency. Our technical expertise allows us to work with your technical staff to design or refine systems to support these criteria from the outset, which can be much easier and cheaper than bolting on compliance solutions after a system has been built.
To support such responsibility-aware design in the long run, Rocky Coast Research can also help your business develop internal governance processes that support ethics, data fairness, privacy-by-design, and more. Our industry leading methodology extends to best practices in the software and data science life cycles.
As the regulatory environment for technology changes, we work with leading businesses, trade associations, nonprofits, and government entities to create rational, technically informed discussions of critical technology policy issues. Working with you, Rocky Coast Research can help to develop and execute a public policy strategy around data use and cutting-edge technologies. We can draft white papers, provide issue briefings in writing or in person, research important policy questions and legal issues as they relate to technology, or draft legislative language or regulatory filings. We can also provide intelligence and advisory services on a number of tech policy issues. We can also develop public reports or high-impact demonstrations to highlight issues in responsible technology.
Similarly, just as privacy issues and data breaches can cost companies financially, in user trust, and have many times led to the loss of senior leadership, issues in the responsible and ethical use of data can create reputation concerns and cause a loss of trust with users, customers, and the public.
Many stakeholders may not be represented in the design of computer systems that affect them. Design processes reflect the opinions of the people who are present, and views which are under-represented in the room receive less attention by definition. Many systems have failed not because the technology didn't work to solve a real problem, but because foreseeable effects on user or non-user populations which were not paid sufficient attention during design, development, and deployment.
We can help manage engagement with external stakeholders, such as through the creation of representative trusted user panels, engagement with representative civil society groups, and the conduct of user research across affected populations. We can also help you spot cases where a system may have unintended affects on groups or kinds of people you may not have considered during design. Finally, we can help you create stronger, more inclusive, and more robust design, development, and deployment processes.
As leading experts in secure system design, the design and operation of cryptographic systems, and privacy-enhancing technologies, Rocky Coast Research can identify and mitigate issues in your technology infrastructure and help you to build security and privacy in from the design phase. Data oriented technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence create new business risks that traditional security vendors do not consider. For example, when basing critical business decisions on data science, it is necessary to have a clear picture of the entire "supply chain" of the data and models supporting those decisions. The integrity of data and code must be protected by design and by active business processes. Models must be tested for robustness against adversarial inputs. And your business must protect itself against the threat of rogue insiders who can undermine the correctness of data science products.
Further, using proprietary technology developed in-house, Rocky Coast Research can help your business automate data governance processes and compliance efforts. Our data tagging technology allows the immediate validation of what data can be used for what purposes at what locations within your organization.
As the home of leading experts in many areas of technology, Rocky Coast Research is well positioned to provide expert declarations or testimony in a wide variety of cases involving computer technology, although we are especially suited to cases that turn on data-oriented technologies such as machine learning, data science, and artificial intelligence as well as matters concerning security and privacy. For example, founder Joshua A. Kroll, PhD is a recognized leading researcher in these areas and can build an expert team in almost any area of technology. We can provide expertise on cases involving intellectual property, privacy and data breaches, best practices in computer system bias and machine learning fairness, and more.
Rocky Coast Research is proud to help regulators, law enforcement, auditors, and journalists investigate computer systems for bias, misbehavior, and fidelity to public statements such as marketing claims or privacy policies. Such investigations can uncover incorrect behavior and violations of law, public promises, or contracts.