Call: Ethics Oversight and Committees for AI: Towards a Future Research Agenda – University of Oxford workshop

Call for Participation

Ethics Oversight and Committees for AI: Towards a Future Research Agenda
A Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities (WEH) workshop
Friday, May 10, 2019, 10am to 6pm
Big Data Institute, University of Oxford

Participation deadline: May 5, 2019

Ethox and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities are based at the Big Data Institute, University of Oxford, Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery, Old Road Campus, Oxford OX3 7FZ. This workshop will take place in the BDI, Level 1 Ax Meeting Room.


Increasingly, concerns are being raised about the lack of ethics oversight in the development of technologies and tools utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) techniques within industry. In response, some companies have developed internal committees or processes of ethics oversight. Yet little is known about the varying forms of guidance, oversight, or spaces for ethical reflection that are emerging within the development and varying sites of application for AI and machine learning. Within the academic realm, detailed systems of oversight, including regulations and research ethics committees, are in place. However, these systems were developed in order to provide ethical guidance for those engaged in paradigmatic forms of medical research, such as clinical trials and laboratory research. Many have raised concerns that these systems are not appropriate for the ethical evaluation of research projects involving AI, given the distance of these projects from the clinical encounter, the ways in which traditional conceptions of ‘human subjects’ are challenged, and the unique ethical issues they bring to light.

This workshop, which will bring together participants from both academia and industry, asks what the oversight of the development of AI / machine learning tools currently looks like, within industry, academia, and collaborations between the two, and what it ought to look like in the future. Taking inspiration from the model of research ethics committees (RECs, also called IRBs and REBs), although not limiting the discussion to this form, questions that will be considered include:

  • What novel ethical issues arise within the use of these technologies?
  • Who should be involved in such oversight and why?
  • What kinds of expertise are necessary and desirable for those involved in ethics oversight of AI?
  • What forms of oversight for AI are currently being developed within industry and academia and collaborations between the two?
  • What are the benefits and shortcomings of traditional and novel systems of ethics oversight?

Participants will be invited to briefly present themselves and their work, questions and perspectives. Much of the day will consist of discussion of the above questions, and others that arise throughout the workshop. We hope to collectively outline a set of primary concerns, current responses, and directions for future research, and publish a manuscript documenting these.

The day will run from 10am – 6pm on May 10th. Lunch will be provided. Please contact Rachel Douglas-Jones or Phoebe Friesen by May 5th if you are interested in taking part. Please briefly explain why you would like to participate, as spaces are limited.


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