Jul 30, 2018

Expert Voices Live: An Ethical Approach to Innovation

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 9 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 400,000 worldwide on Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins.

By the numbers: Almost 6.9 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 worldwide and more than 3 million have recovered from the virus. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.9 million.

George Floyd updates

Protesters gather north of Lafayette Square near the White House during a demonstration against racism and police brutality, in Washington, D.C. on Saturday evening. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have been rallying in cities across the U.S. and around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd. Huge crowds assembled in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago for full-day events on Saturday.

Why it matters: Twelve days of nationwide protest in the U.S. has built pressure for states to make changes on what kind of force law enforcement can use on civilians and prompted officials to review police conduct. A memorial service was held for Floyd in Raeford, North Carolina, near where he was born. Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all flags to fly at half-staff to honor him until sunset.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,898,613 — Total deaths: 399,832 — Total recoveries — 3,087,714Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,920,061 — Total deaths: 109,802 — Total recoveries: 500,849 — Total tested: 19,778,873Map.
  3. Public health: Why the pandemic is hitting minorities harder — Coronavirus curve rises in FloridaHow racism threatens the response to the pandemic Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight the virus.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model.
  5. Business: Budgets busted by coronavirus make it harder for cities to address inequality Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.