In the effort to make it clear what it means to Koa Health to act ethically (in our pursuit of mental health for all), we’re sharing our principles below.
- Improving your health and happiness
- Putting you in control
- Being understandable and transparent
- Securing your data
- Being accountable
Koa Health has been developing our ethics strategy since 2016. During that time we’ve developed and tested a range of ideas, undergone two external ethics audits, and have already experienced a few challenges. Four are highlighted in this section.
- Principles can conflict.
We saw this acutely during the audit of a prototype app. Our focus on privacy was so strong that we had no direct data to draw on to understand if our recommendation algorithm might be biased. This demonstrated to us that early consideration of potential conflict between ethical principles is essential.
- To a certain extent, delivery is all or nothing.
It’s not possible to be 60% or 80% ethical; in setting out multiple ethical principles we must address all of them at the same time. This is obviously true of our approach to understandability and transparency, two principles that are intrinsically linked.
- Balancing realism and ambition is challenging.
While we want to be ambitious, we also want to be realistic. To strike the right balance, our commitments are a mix of ideas that are currently implementable alongside more challenging initiatives that will require further research and substantial effort to deliver.
- There’s still so much to learn
Thus far, no society has developed a set of norms to ensure technology’s optimum functionality for everyone. With so much that remains unknown in the application of digital technology and machine learning to health, we’re sure we’ll need to evolve our approach as we experiment and learn.