Why ethics of quantification is needed now

Andrea Saltelli, Antonio Andreoni, Wolfgang Drechsler, Jayati Ghosh, Rainer Kattel, Ingrid Kvangraven, Ismael Rafols, Erik S. Reinert, Andy Stirling, Ting Xu

Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paper


Statistical and mathematical models, metrical objects, artificial intelligence applied to big data,
all promise a better way to manage the present and the future. This proliferation of numbers,
both visible and invisible, increasingly permeate the real, expanding in scope and
sophistication. Not so society's capacity to adapt, manage and, when necessary, oppose,
harmful or undesired effects.

Alarms against the downsides of quantification are heard from several disciplines, from within
the number generating communities, as well as from outside, from sociologists, philosophers,
and jurists concerned with quantification. Finance, economics, education, aid, law,
environment, no field is left untouched by digits, rating, scoring and number-based decisions.
The existing different instances and voices of critique may be assisted by an ethics of
quantification. As part of this, an observatory is proposed here to judge of the quality of
quantifications, both existing and oncoming, by tackling, in a trans-disciplinary style, different
problems settings via case-studies.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)2635-0122
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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