The use of technological solutions to address the production of goods and offering of services is ubiquitous. Health and social issues, however, have only slowly been permeated by technological solutions. Whilst several advances have been made in health in recent years, the adoption of technology to combat social problems has lagged behind. In this paper, we explore Big Data-driven Artificial Intelligence (AI) applied to social systems; i.e., social computing, the concept of artificial intelligence as an enabler of novel social solutions. Through a critical analysis of the literature, we elaborate on the social and human interaction aspects of technology that must be in place to achieve such enabling and address the limitations of the current state of the art in this regard. We review cultural, political, and other societal impacts of social computing, impact on vulnerable groups, and ethically-aligned design of social computing systems. We show that this is not merely an engineering problem, but rather the intersection of engineering with health sciences, social sciences, psychology, policy, and law. We then illustrate the concept of ethically-designed social computing with a use case of our ongoing research, where social computing is used to support safety and security in home-sharing settings, in an attempt to simultaneously combat youth homelessness and address loneliness in seniors, identifying the risks and potential rewards of such a social computing application.
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