image credit: Vecteezy

Ask a Data Ethicist: When Is It OK to Use “Fake” Data?

July 8, 2024

It’s easier than ever to use AI-generated images or text and to create synthetic data for use in research. A recent high-profile story got me thinking more about this question:

When is it OK to use “fake” data?

Before we dive into this, I’m putting “fake” in quotes because I’m taking a wide perspective on this topic of what might constitute “fake” data. I’m including times when the content might be of an actual person in whole or in part, but the manner in which they are depicted is not forthright or honest. I’m also going to look at entirely made-up data including synthetic data.