Digital Event Speaker

[CONFERENCE] #DigitalRevolution in Manchester


I was invited to speak on a panel entitled ‘Technology, Ethics and Regulation’ at the end of Manchester’s second ‘Digital Revolution‘ conference, hosted by Manchester Digital.

The blurb was as follows:

Technology is no longer the limiting factor for the advancement of society but how we implement it, how it changes society and in some cases our humanity raises some big worrying questions. Is automation going to be our downfall or our saviour, what will humans do when robots replace white collar work as well as blue collar? How do we protect our privacy when everything about us can be monitored and tracked and where is the burden of responsibility to protect us? What will driverless vehicles mean to us as humans and to industry, who should they be programmed to protect?

  • Chair: Martin Bryant
  • Dr Bex Lewis, Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Professor Tony Prescott, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience & Director of Sheffield Robotics
  • Dr Simon Holgate, CEO, Sea Level Research

The potential questions were as follows:

  • Automation: 
    • People talk about AI taking jobs but where are we at with that now?
    • What areas of automation will have themes impact on the labour market and our lives?
    • Will there be enough jobs for all? Is a universal basic income going to become necessary?
    • The ‘who should a self-driving vehicle save?’ dilemma
  • Privacy and ethics:
    • Great current example: Google Deep Mind analyzing NHS data – what are the pros and cons?
    • Putting citizens in control of their own data (e.g., GM Connect). Ethically ‘the right thing’ but is it really a good idea?

I was seeking to bring my interdisciplinary humanities experience from history, media studies, educational technology, theology and now business to bear on the conversation, and brought up a number of historical comparisons (we’ve survived these moral panics before), let’s not fall for technological determinism, but didn’t manage to get in ‘will AI ever have a soul’, or reference to films such as Black Mirror and Ex-Machina!

In preparation for this panel, after looking back at my 2013 talk on ‘technology as a plug in drug‘, and my 2014 talk on ‘photoshopped selves‘, I looked at the following material (some of it was more helpful than others):

and, wow, just search ‘artificial intelligence will take over‘!

I also collected a few tweets from the day: