AI ethics, foresight and ethics by design: Digital Ethics Summit

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Trilateral Research

Date: 16 January 2018

The Digital Ethics Summit held in December 2017 focussed on AI ethics, foresight and ethics by design. The messages coming out of the summit are highly relevant for everyone who is interested in the socio-economical impacts of emerging technologies. Rowena Rodrigues, Trilateral’s Senior Research Analysts and SIENNA deputy coordinator, provide here an overview of the discussions.

Digital Ethics Summit organised by techUK

The day started with an opening address by Martha Lane Fox (Founder & Executive Chair, Doteveryone). She highlighted the need for organisations to address gender balance, relationship to children and services provided. She also suggested the UK take the lead on addressing ethical and moral challenges and bring together civil society, industry and politics.

The first-panel discussion (chaired by Sue Daley, Head of Cloud, Data, Analytics and AI techUK) focussed on the current landscape and how to ensure ethical foresight. Speakers included Professor Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information, Director of the Digital Ethics Lab Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford (also SIENNA stakeholder advisory board member); Dr Stephen Cave, Executive Director, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge; Dr Claire Craig, Director of Science Policy, Royal Society; George Zarkadakis, Digital Lead, Willis Towers Watson and Rob McCargow, Programme Leader – Artificial Intelligence, PwC.

Professor Floridi highlighted four key aspects: delegation i.e., who makes the final decisions; responsibility – who has the responsibility for wrongdoing; manipulation – are we being nudged, and prudence – relating to implications of deskilling.

The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital, DCMS spoke about plans for the new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

A keynote address by Dr Carolyn Nguyen, Director, Technology Policy, Microsoft focused on policy considerations including multi-stakeholder dialogue, sharing best practices and skills training.

In her keynote, Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, Information Commissioner’s Office, suggested that “there’s no dichotomy between ethics and innovation. But ethical considerations should dictate the direction of travel”.

The panel on How do we embed an Ethics by Design Approach? discussed how organisations are developing ethics by design approaches today, and what can be done moving forward. It was chaired by Hetan Shah, Executive Director, The Royal Statistical Society. Panellists included Robin Tombs, CEO, Yoti; James Kidner, Director of Partnership, Improbable; Kriti Sharma, VP Artificial Intelligence, Sage; Tabitha Goldstaub, Co-Founder, CognitionX; Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, ICO and Stephen Deadman, Global Deputy Chief Privacy Officer, Facebook.

Chief Executive, Nuffield Foundation, Tim Gardam’s keynote focussed on ‘Social well-being and data ethics: a Nuffield Foundation initiative on the social impact of data, algorithms and AI’.

The final panel of the day, chaired by Sue Daley, techUK, focussed on “Positioning the UK for Ethical Leadership” and discussed the opportunities and benefits for the UK of positioning itself as the global centre of excellence for addressing digital and data ethics issues. Panellists included Dr Natalie Banner, Policy Advisor, Wellcome Trust; Ollie Buckley, Deputy Director, Digital Charter & Data Ethics, DCMS; Dr Jeni Tennison OBE, CEO, ODI and Richard Ward, Government and Regulatory Affairs, IBM.

The messages that came out of the event are very significant for Trilateral Research’s work in developing ethical and socio-economic impacts of emerging technologies. Both in terms of the impacts of AI (e.g., changing nature of work, shifts in employee benefits, impacts on fairness, accountability, trust and transparency, impacts on health and human flourishing, increase in biases), and the calls for further dialogue, cross-sectoral learning and best practice sharing. This is part of our work in delivering data-driven innovation to resolve challenges at the crossroads of technology and society and we will address it as part of the SIENNA project’s research and engagement activities.

About the Digital Ethics Summit

The Digital Ethics Summit was organised by techUK at The County Hall, London, on 13 December 2017. The event, focussed on ethical issues in AI, was organised in partnership with the Royal Statistical Society, Wellcome Trust, Royal Society, British Academy, University of Oxford Data Ethics Lab, Open Data Institute, the Alan Turing Institute and the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. The event was sponsored by Microsoft, the Nuffield Foundation and Yoti. The event was fully sold out with over 250 people attending. Participants included philosophers, academics, engineers, industry representatives, lawyers, regulators, journalists and policy-makers.



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