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Does your machine mind?

  • Ethics vs AI logo On 14 June 2017, the Law Society hosted a conference on the topic of ethics and potential bias in the law of algorithms.

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    About the conference

    We explore how machine learning is currently being used, how it may be used in the future and what the legal implications could be. The discussion will also examine the potential liability and regulatory considerations in relation to machine learning, and the role of the law and lawyers in this rapidly evolving area.

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    Conference topics

    Can you teach a robot to love? Can you teach a robot what is just? Is it possible to ‘compute’ right from wrong?

    Or are we so preoccupied with whether or not we can, that we didn’t stop to think if we should?

    First, the place of ethics in automated decision-making. How do you build appropriate ethics into algorithms, and what does this mean for transparency in decision-making? Do the gains really justify the costs?

    Second, as AI systems become increasingly able to do tasks that only a human could previously, how do they fit with our existing ideas of rights? At what point do these rights start to resemble personhood? Will AI move from ‘computer’ to ‘colleague’?

    Third, as we build these machines how do we keep them from reflecting or entrenching our own biases and inequalities?

    Our panel will confront these questions, as well as questions from the audience, in a London Tech Week seminar that promises to push the electronic boundaries of our laws and morality.

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    Speaker biographies

    Robert Bourns, immediate past President of the Law Society of England and Wales

    Robert Bourns - Ethics V AI

    Robert Bourns is the former senior partner at TLT and the president of the Law Society. Robert trained with Osborne Clarke and was admitted 1980. For the first six years as a solicitor he undertook criminal defence work, later moving to employment, partnership and regulatory work. Robert has significant experience managing and developing a growing business across the UK, having been managing partner for six years and more recently senior partner at TLT. He joined the Law Society Council in 2011 and is an elected member of the Management Board.

    Christina Blacklaws, Vice President of the Law Society and Director of Innovation at Cripps.

    Christina Blacklaws - Ethics V AI

    Christina Blacklaws studied Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford and qualified as a solicitor in 1991. A family lawyer by background, she has successfully run and managed both large scale high-street and virtual law firms. Christina set up the Co-operative Legal Services family law offering in 2011 and then moved into the role of director of Policy. Christina now holds the role of chief operating officer at a top 100 firm, Cripps LLP and is responsible for strategic change and operational management.

    Dr Sylvie Delecroix, Reader in Legal Theory and Ethics with a fractional appointment in UCL Computer Sciences.

    Sylvie Delecroix - Ethics V AI

    Sylvie is a reader in legal theory and ethics in UCL Laws with a fractional appointment in computer science. Her work on the intersection between law and ethics (funded by a Leverhulme Prize in 2010) has notably led her to recently launch the UCL Virtual Environments and the Professions Group. Her recent research focuses on the extent to which different types of machine learning technologies may apply support professionals in meeting the ethical demands entailed by their particular responsibility.

    Mike Lind, GM for Europe and Africa at Modria

    Mike Lind - Ethics V AI

    Mike has worked at the forefront of ADR and mediation for over 20 years and is now combing this knowledge with the latest developments in technology; identifying how the practice of law and provision of wider legal services is likely to change; and what impact this will have on professionals operating in this space.

    Roger Bickerstaff, Partner and Digital Technology Solutions, Internet Services and eCommerce industry initiative lead at Bird & Bird.

    Roger Bickerstaff - Ethics V AI Roger is member of Bird & Bird's international technology and communications sector steering group and leads the digital technology solutions initiative. He is widely regarded as being one of the UK's leading technology lawyers. He was chairman of the UK Society for Computers of Law 2013 to 2016 and president of the International Federation of Computer Law Associations, 2014 to 2016.

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    Speaker presentations

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    Ethics V AI conference

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