All posts by Helena Webb

UnBias Ethicon!

Earlier this year the UnBias team ran its first Ethicon. An Ethicon is a new kind of event developed by members of the Human Centred Computing theme at Oxford. It works as a twist on the traditional hackathon; it is geared towards forefronting ethical issues alongside design issues in the completion of a task.

In an Ethicon teams work together to carry out a competitive design task. In addition to thinking about technical features of design they are required to address the social and ethical implications of the particular technology involved. They are challenged to identify novel and creative solutions that embed ethical considerations into their design. Teams are interdisciplinary so that they can share expertise and learn from each other in a fun environment. They are then assessed by a panel of experts who judge the technical quality of their work alongside how well they have worked together to identify and address ethical concerns.

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Roundtable on Uses of Artificial Intelligence in the Criminal Justice System

To what extent can AI/statistical systems support the criminal justice process? Can we rely on algorithmic calculations to help us make decisions about whether an offender should receive a prison sentence? Are sentencing decisions made by statistical systems more or less likely to be flawed than those made by humans? As the use of AI in criminal justice systems around the world continues to grow, these questions become more and urgent to discuss – and were the focus of a recent roundtable discussion held at Oxford.


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Algorithms and the persuasion machine

In the current BBC series Secrets of Silicon Valley Jamie Bartlett (technology writer and Director of the Centre for Social Media Analysis at Demos) explores the ‘dark reality behind Silicon Valley’s glittering promise to build a better world.’ Episode 2, The Persuasion Machine, shines a spotlight on several of the issues we are investigating in UnBias.

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Algorithm Workshop, University of Strathclyde. February 2017

What are algorithms and how are they designed? Why are they used in commercial practice and what kinds of benefits can they bring? What are the potential harmful impacts of using algorithms and how can they be prevented?

On Wednesday 15th February 2017 some UnBias consortium members had the pleasure of attending an Algorithm Workshop hosted by the Law School, University of Strathclyde. During the workshop, we had the opportunity to consider, discuss and begin to address key issues and concerns surrounding the contemporary prevalence of algorithms. The workshop was also attended by students from the host University and an interdisciplinary group of experts from areas including Law, Computer Science and the Social Sciences. This mix of expertise made for a really great afternoon of talks and discussions surrounding the design, development and use of algorithms through various disciplinary perspectives.

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