The increasing influence of Artificial intelligence in our lives has opened up questions about broader societal aspects of the use of data-driven and emerging technologies and the capacity of regulators and civil society to deal with the unintended consequences and potential harms these technologies can cause.
The speed of growth and importance of AI in the UK is creating a new landscape for the adoption and development of Artificial Intelligence and according to new data released by Tech Nation, the UK now "has more than 1,300 AI companies with a collective turnover of almost $2B – a 600% increase in the number of firms over the last decade. In the same period, venture capital investment rocketed from $120m to more than $3.4B in 2020" (1)
This new ecosystem is playing an important part of the AI Strategy by the UK government, which has established as one of its strategic goals to make the UK a global "AI superpower" bringing special attention to the need to ensure that these technologies are beneficial for human societies and the planet. (2)
The need for a clear ethical strategy
In the last three years, we have seen a proliferation of frameworks developed by big technology companies to adopt an ethical approach to technology.
These frameworks are based on high-level principles such as fairness, privacy, human agency, and explainability, and to date there is no agreement about the best way to operationalise these general principles.
Lack of clarity and practicality are commonly recognised as barriers to the successful implementation by startups and small businesses.
Finding an appropriate way to develop, deploy and evaluate the impact of AI and data demands a clear strategy in line with these ethical considerations.
So far, the consensus seems to be on developing an approach based on the needs and values of businesses and the wider community.
Pioneering a new type of innovation
Public awareness and the growing pressure from civil society and academic organisations have made clear the need for more robust ways to design, implement and deploy AI systems.
Encouraging businesses to take a proactive approach to become pioneers in the adoption of ethical innovation.
The South West : A cluster for ethical innovation.
Aim of the project
The objective of this project is to provide insights and capture the views of developers and users of AI and data-driven technologies in the South West of England.
As a cluster, the South West has the unique opportunity to find new ways of developing technology by applying Ethics throughout the entire life cycle of a product or service.
Having an understanding of the opportunities and challenges for the development of ethical innovation in the region would strengthen our position and competitive advantage in the local and global markets.
At Collective Intelligence, we define ethical innovation as:
“The development of technology that considers the wider ethical implications in society, identifying risks and developing mitigation strategies using a systematic approach”
We want to redefine the landscape of innovation, where the focus is not only on value-led organizations but also on more robust and better technology.
This project will use primarily qualitative techniques incorporating elements of Participatory Research.
We will collect information using a combination of in-person and online interviews, workshops and a short survey.
This project is divided into 3 phases:
Phase 1: Business Insight
Phase 2: User Engagement
Phase 3: Knowledge Community
Phase 1: Business Insights.
We are looking for companies in the South West of England developing AI to take part in this research.
Companies interested in taking part in this research will be asked to fill out a short online questionnaire (about 3 mins)
An online or in-person interview (about 30 minutes )
Target audience: Founders, CEOs, Product Managers, and members of the Senior Management Team.
Phase 2: User engagement (subject to funding)
This phase seeks to engage with a variety of stakeholders to capture concerns, views and expectations of the technology created in the region.
In-person workshops with relevant participants including Marketing and PR professionals, and a diverse group of civil society organisations.
We'll be hosting a regional Event to present the "South West a Cluster for Ethical Innovation" Report.
This event will provide an opportunity to promote the work of the organisations involved, discuss key findings and future actions.
Phase 3: Knowledge Comunity (subject to funding)
This third phase seeks to coordinate the formation of a Knowledge Community, to provide businesses access to relevant information, training, and resources to build actionable knowledge through collaboration.
We are looking for organisations to help us to connect with Startups and Scaleups in the South West of England and for businesses to take part in our research.
Why to get involved?
Benefits for organisations
To play an active role in ensuring businesses developing AI systems have the support needed to implement a successful ethical strategy.
To understand the skills and training needs of the members of your organisation.
To promote your organisation as a supporter of a pioneering initiative.
Benefits for businesses
To get an understanding of your user's expectations and concerns regarding your product or service.
To show your commitment to ethical innovation.
To join a community of practice with access to resources and support.
To take part in this research please fill out this 3 minutes questionnaire.