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Axios Managing Editor Kim Hart hosts 25 technology and policy experts at DC's Unconventional Diner. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

Axios Managing Editor Kim Hart led a July 18th roundtable discussion on ethics and bias in new technologies and the responsibilities that fall to government, the private sector and individuals.     

The big picture: Guests offered cross-sector perspectives on how explainability, accountability and transparency fit into tech responsibility.

Be smart: Explainability is the key to ethical artificial intelligence, it’s “teaching the computer to explain its decision making," according to Axios' Ina Fried.

Former FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny shares her perspective. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

Former FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny weighed in on the issue of explainability: “Not every consumer is going to need to understand every aspect of how this tech works. But… companies have to organize themselves and govern because explainability is not just for users, it’s also for the regulators and the enforcers. There comes a point where saying ‘I don’t know why it did that’ is not going to be an acceptable answer.’”

Georgetown's Laura Moy talks tech accountability. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

Laura Moy, deputy director of Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology, on expanding the frame of thinking:

“We must look at accountability more broadly. Things like outcome audits are important for regulators and companies to find out if there is bias in an AI design.”

What’s next: The conversation dove into how the federal government and tech companies should balance responsibility when regulating new technologies like AI.

IBM's Michael Hind discusses bias in technology. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

Michael Hind, a Distinguished Research Staff Member at IBM, underlined the need for tech companies to improve their tools to fix bias in data and help explain decisions.

Klon Kitchen, a Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, stressed that our current system is set up for “stability, not agility” and challenged the private sector to take an “active approach to identifying working ways forward for self-regulating best practices.”  

Nicholas Degani, Special Counselor to the FCC Chairman, on innovation today: “Our market rewards output explainabilites. Consumers need to know what’s inside the box…what can it do and why people are using the product. The things that made Apple so great is that… the product did exactly what you wanted it to do, when you wanted it to do it.”

The other side: Guests also discussed the impact of artificial intelligence on the human experience, including how technology can enable discriminatory practices.

Natasha Durate, the AI Lead for the Center for Democracy & Technology, reminded guests to question who AI works for and challenge the bias against those without access to the interface.

Thank you IBM for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Chargés d'Affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and non-essential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten embassy's ability to assist Americans.

Perfect storm brewing for extreme politicians

Data: Axios research; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Redistricting and a flood of departing incumbents are paving the way for more extreme candidates in this year's midterm elections.

Driving the news: At least 19 House districts in 12 states are primed to attract such candidates — hard partisans running in strongly partisan districts — according to an Axios analysis of districts as measured by the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index (PVI).

Updated 41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February — FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated".
  2. Vaccines: Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Beijing Olympic Committee lowers COVID testing threshold ahead of Games — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker