Introducing the Ethics Committee

The responsible use of algorithms and data is paramount for the sustainable development of machine intelligence applications. However, at present, there is a gap between theory and practice, between the ‘what’ of responsible AI and the ‘how’. There is demand from all sizes of organisations for help on defining and applying ethical standards in practice.

Digital Catapult established an Ethics Committee in 2018 to help address this need, in line with its role to grow early adoption of digital technology in the UK. The responsible use of algorithms and data is fundamental to this mission, but one that needs greater definition so that practitioners can adopt good practices and buyers can recognise them. The committee is chaired by Professor Luciano Floridi and convenes some of the foremost minds in AI and data ethics, sitting in two capacities: a Steering Board and Advisory Group.

Digital Catapult is now seeking to appoint a new member of the Ethics Committee Steering Board to join the existing committee (currently five in the Steering Board and twelve in the Advisory Group).

The Ethics Committee supports the Machine Intelligence Garage, a Digital Catapult programme that is part funded by Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund (as part of the CAP-AI project).

Why get involved?

The Digital Catapult Ethics Committee works closely with companies to analyse how ethics principles can be applied to create sustainable AI-powered products and services with a positive impact on society.

This is an opportunity to be part of an initiative that applies ethics principles in “the wild” and to collaborate with experts from a range of domains.

To date the committee has published its ethics framework and our Advisory Group members have provided support to seven Machine Intelligence Garage startup cohorts. More detail on the committee and its work is available in this recent report: Lessons in Practical AI Ethics.

Who should apply?

Applications should be from candidates with expertise in the following areas:

  • Technology (in particular machine learning and AI)
  • Business and/or technology ethics

Additional information

The Ethics Committee does not act in a decision making capacity, but rather to advise and support the organisations that Digital Catapult works with to embed the application of AI ethics into their systems and company culture.

The Steering Board oversees the development of principles and tools to facilitate responsible AI in practice. The Advisory Group contributes to the supervisory role of the Steering Board, however their main focus is to operationalise the work of the Ethics Committee through a range of ethics engagements with external organisations.

Key activities of the Steering Board are to:

  • Establish, maintain and, if needed, update the principles for the Committee’s work.
  • Provide mentoring and advice for the operation of the ethics engagements.
  • Review the delivery and efficacy of the engagements that are delivered in collaboration with the advisory group.
  • Propose or advise on suggested programme improvement, extension or other initiatives.
  • Support Digital Catapult to disseminate the work of the ethics committee to those who may benefit from the lessons learned.

The majority of this work is covered in half-day Committee meetings which take biannually. In addition there are infrequent emails to communicate information or to seek feedback and advice.

Next steps

Interested? Please respond to the open call, via this link, and the team will be in touch with you within four weeks of the call closing.

Selection criteria

  • Applicants must be based in the UK
  • Candidate neutrality will be important in assessing applications

Applications will be assessed by the technical and programme delivery experts from Digital Catapult and shortlisted applicants will be invited to have a telephone discussion. We reserve the right to reject applications if it is: not clear and concise; has an obvious lack of content/evidence; or does not provide any clear, meaningful response to the application questions or requirements.

Understanding and response to the questions

Digital Catapult is looking for clear evidence that you have understood the duties that would be involved in being a member of the Ethics Committee Steering Board.

Relevant industry or academic experience

Digital Catapult is interested in applications from those who have relevant industry or academic experience in machine learning and applied ethics. We also have special interests in the manufacturing or creative industries.

Pragmatism

The work of applying ethics principles to create sustainable AI-powered products and services with a positive impact on society is an evolving, context-dependent and dynamic process that has no “one size fits all” solution. We seek applicants that are comfortable with this uncertainty, and will engage constructively with the organisations we support, and help us communicate effectively with the broad stakeholder community.

We are aware of the relative lack of team diversity within the technology sector and tech startups in general. We value and promote diversity and are committed to equality of opportunity for all.

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