An important topic considered this year at the International Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), one of the prime outlets for machine learning and Artificial Intelligence research in the world, is the connection between machine learning, law and ethics. In particular, a paper presented by Moritz Hardt, Eric Price, and Nathan Srebro focused on Equality of Opportunity in Supervised Learning.
The UnBias team is pleased to announce the launch of a ground-breaking report that articulates the voice of children and young people, and their relationship to the internet and digital technologies.
This report is titled ‘The Internet on our Own Term: How Children and Young People Deliberated about their Digital Rights’ and describes the work carried since April 2015 in which young people aged between 12 and 17 gathered together in the cities of Leeds, London and Nottingham to participate in a series of jury-styled focus groups designed to ‘put the internet on trial’. In total, nine juries took place which included 108 young people, approximately 12 participants per jury.
For algorithm based systems, as with many other topics, 2016 turned out to be an eventful year. As we close the year and look back on events, the course of 2016 brought many of the issues we intend to address in the UnBias project to the attention of people and organizations who previously perhaps had not considered these things before.
From Thursday 24th to Monday 28th November, the Nottingham UnBias team contributed to series of workshop/CPD events organized by the SATORI project, the Belfast Solicitors’ Association (“BSA”) and the Ethics of Big Data working group at the University of Cambridge.
A recent report from the BBC covers one instance of the ever-growing use of algorithms for social purposes and helps us to illustrate some key ethical concerns underpinning the UnBias project.
The first youth jury sessions of the UnBias project took place last weekend and were highly interesting and thought provoking. Despite the cold and rainy weather, we had a great turnout with nearly 30 young people choosing to attend. Our youth jurors mostly ranged in age from 13 to 18 and took part in two interactive activities.
On November 7th I attended the Algorithms Transparency and Accountability in the Digital Economy roundtable event that was organized by MEP Marietje Schaake for the purpose of “discussing which options the European Union has to improve the accountability and/or the transparency of the algorithms that underpin many business models and platforms in the digital single market.”
We invite stakeholders from academia, education, government/regulatory oversight organizations, civil society, media, industry and entrepreneurs to contribute to our ongoing research study by taking part in a small number of stakeholder engagement workshops. These workshops will explore the implications of algorithm-mediated interactions on online platforms. They provide an opportunity for relevant stakeholders to put forward their perspectives and discuss the ways in which algorithms shape online behaviours, in particular in relation to access and the dissemination of information to users. The workshops will provide an excellent opportunity for participants to exchange ideas and explore solutions with perspectives from a wide range of stakeholders. Following each workshop the participants will receive an anonymized report of the outcomes, which will contribute to the production of policy recommendations as well as the design of a ‘fairness toolkit’ for users, online providers and other stakeholders.
Further information and details about the workshops is available at the WP4 Invitation for stakeholder engagement page.
A lot has been said about algorithms working as gatekeepers and making decisions on our behalf, often without us noticing it. I can surely find an example in my daily life where I do notice it and benefit from it. This happens when I use the “Discover Weekly” Spotify play-list. By comparing my listening habits to that of other users with similar but not identical choices, Spotify allows information on the fringes to be shared. It is thus “tailored” to my music taste, and it is incredibly accurate in predicting things I would like. Besides, it lets me discover new music and bands and in many occasions can also take me back in time with some tunes I have probably not listened to for a long time.
Courtesy of the University of Nottingham Press-office, the UnBias project sent out a press release to notify about the launch of our project. The press-release was picked up by ScienceDaily, AlphaGalileo and Eurekalert among others. The full text of the press-release is reproduced below.