Contributing to Digital Catapult AI Ethics Framework

28 September 2018

Practical ethics guidance and recommendations for artificial intelligence development unveiled by the Machine Intelligence Garage Ethics Committee - including our postdoctoral researcher Dr Shahar Avin.

Digital Catapult released its first Ethics Framework and invited AI companies to test the framework as a means to integrate ethical practice into the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.

Digital Catapult is the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation Centre. Its Machine Intelligence Garage programme works with AI start-ups. The Machine Intelligence Garage Ethics Committee is an independent body dedicated to realising responsible artificial intelligence development in the UK.

The Ethics Framework sets out key ethical considerations and underlying questions that provide a practical approach for startups, individual developers and experts to use in planning for and addressing the ethical challenges faced by their business, technology and ideas.

The Machine Intelligence Garage Ethics Committee believes ethics should be a central consideration for companies and individuals developing AI in order to create positive meaningful change for society. Those who have considered the ethical implications of their products and services, and who monitor, manage and communicate effectively about them, will have a competitive edge.

Startups are the primary target audience for the Ethics Framework. Startups are perhaps the hardest testing ground for ethical tools since they have little time or resource for unnecessary work or abstract discussion. Conversely, startups and scaleups can more readily reap the potential rewards, since they are unencumbered with legacy infrastructure and can embed ethical practices right from the beginning of their business growth.

The Ethics Framework will therefore initially be offered to companies on Digital Catapult’s Machine Intelligence Garage programme to see how it can be applied to the systems that these startups are already in the process of creating. In addition, a series of workshops and roundtable events will be organised for companies and individuals outside of the programme to engage, with a view to helping to update and evolve the Ethics Framework over time, to understand how wider industry adoption can be effectively rolled out, and to produce or highlight tools that embed good ethical practice within good engineering practice.

The Ethics Committee was established in July 2018 and includes some of the foremost minds in AI and data ethics - including our postdoctoral researcher Dr Shahar Avin. The Committee is made up of a Steering Group, who will oversee the development of tools to facilitate responsible AI in practice, and an Advisory Group, who will work closely with startups developing their propositions through Digital Catapult’s Machine Intelligence Garage programme.

The Ethics Committee welcomes feedback and opportunities for collaboration. Contact them at 

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