Ethics in Open Source: An Analysis of Ethical Practices on GitHub


  • KAZI RAHMAN Aspiring Scientists' Summer Internship Program Intern
  • Brittany Johnson-Matthews Aspiring Scientists' Summer Internship Program Mentor



The technological landscape continues to evolve through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to support automated decision making. These technological advances have led to heightened concerns around ethics and equity, which has led to a push to better understand and support these software engineering research and practice. There exists numerous interventions, from frameworks and guidelines to tooling, that aim to support ethical software development; however, it's not clear if and to what extent these considerations and interventions are being applied in practice.To better understand what, if any, ethical considerations or interventions are being applied in practice, we analyzed repositories on GitHub for the amount and relevance of ethical considerations in open source projects. We conducted a semi-automated analysis of repository artifacts for keywords pertaining to ethics, such as fairness, security, and social. We found that when these keywords did appear in discussions, more often than not these words were not used in the context of ethics. Based on a subset of data, keywords such as bias or accuracy are frequently used in technological discussions, while words like security or privacy are used in ethical considerations. In the future, we plan to analyze more data to.further determine the extent of ethical considerations in open source.





College of Engineering and Computing: Department of Computer Science