Unraveling Techno-Solutionism: How I fell out of love with “Ethical” Machine Learning

As a Staff-Plus Engineer, I’ve had plenty of learning moments in my career where I realized my view of a problem was hindered by my own desire to solve it with technology. In this talk, we’ll confront techno-solutionism head-on, walking through my own exploration of ethical machine learning, which eventually led me to specialize in data privacy. Along the journey, you’ll learn tips for recognizing when you’re being more clever than thoughtful, when you need another perspective, when you’re onto something bigger and when you’ve found a problem that will contribute to your own work as well as our world. You’ll also learn about how specialization, diversity, beginner’s mindset and community contribute to identifying real problems where technology can help and create conversations for problems where technology should take a back seat.


Katharine Jarmul

Principal Data Scientist @Thoughtworks

Katharine Jarmul is a Principal Data Scientist at Thoughtworks Germany focusing on privacy, ethics and security for data science workflows. Previously, she has held numerous roles at large companies and startups in the US and Germany, implementing data processing and machine learning systems with a focus on reliability, testability, privacy and security. She is a passionate and internationally recognized data scientist, programmer, and lecturer.

Read more
Find Katharine Jarmul at:

From the same track


How Community Engagement Can Boost Your Staff-Plus Career

How does someone become a successful Staff-Plus Engineer? It is probably a mix of technical skills and having the right opportunities. But what if you don't have access to the best opportunities or the right contacts?

Eder Ignatowicz

Principal Software Engineer and Architect @RedHat


The Engineer/Manager Pendulum

Should you be a manager? Or should you be an engineer? The old wisdom used to say that you should pick a lane and stick to it, but this is bad advice.

Charity Majors

CTO @Honeycombio


The Secret to Finding Impactful Projects to Land a Staff-Plus Engineer Role

So, you want to be a Staff-Plus Engineer at your organization. Are you one of a hundred engineers vying for that big new shiny project to get you there?

Akhilesh Gupta

Principal Software Engineer @LinkedIn