I recently had the pleasure of attending a fantastic seminar on 10 Years of Profiling the European Citizen at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) which was organised by Mireille Hildebrand, Emre Bayamlıoğlu and her team there. As a result of this seminar I was asked to developed a short provocative article to present among scholars there. As there have been numerous requests for the article that I have received over the last few weeks, I decided to publish it here to ensure that it is accessible to a wider audience sooner rather than later. It will be published as part of an edited volume developed from the seminar with Amsterdam University Press later this year. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workshop: Algorithmic Management: Designing systems which promote human autonomyJuly 10, 2018 in Lab updates
The Privacy and Sustainable Computing Lab at Vienna University of Economics and Business and the Europa-University Viadrina are organising a 2-day workshop on:
Algorithmic Management: Designing systems which promote human autonomy
on 20-21 September 2018 at WU Vienna at Welthandelsplatz 1,1020 Vienna, Austria
This workshop is part of a wider research project on Algorithmic Management which studies the structural role of algorithms as forms of management in work environments, where automated digital platforms, such as Amazon, Uber or Clickworker manage the interaction of workers through algorithms. The process of assigning or changing a sequence of individual to be completed tasks is often a fully automated process. This means that algorithms may partly act like a manager, who exercises control over a large number of decentralized workers. The goal of our research project is to investigate the interplay of control and autonomy in a managerial regime, with a specific focus on the food-delivery sector.
Here is the current agenda for the workshop:
Further details about event registration and logistics can be found here: https://www.privacylab.at/event/algorithmic-management-designing-systems-which-promote-human-autonomy/
Council of Europe Study on Algorithms and Human Rights publishedJanuary 23, 2018 in Lab updates
After two years of negotiations in the Council of Europe Committee of experts on Internet Intermediaries (MSI-NET) the final documents of the expert group have finally been published. While the negations among the experts and governmental representatives in the group were not without difficulty, the final texts are relatively strong for what are still negotiated texts. Of particularly interest for experts working on the regulation of algorithms and automation is the Study on Algorithms and Human Rights which was drafted by Dr. Ben Wagner, one of the members of the lab and the Rapporteur of the Study.
The study attempts to take a broad approach to the human rights implications of algorithms, looking not just at Privacy but also Freedom of Assembly and Expression or the Right to a Fair trial in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights. While the regulatory responses suggested focus both on transparency and accountability, they also acknowledge that additional standard-setting measures and ethical frameworks will be required in order to ensure that human rights are safeguarded in automated technical systems. Here existing projects at the Lab such as P7000 or SPECIAL can provide an important contribution to the debate and ensure that not just privacy but that all human rights are safeguarded online.
A GlobArt Workshop at WU’s Privacy & Sustainable Computing Lab November 10, 2017November 15, 2017 in Lab updates
The Privacy & Sustainable Computing Lab together with GlobArt and Capital 300 hosted a Round Table discussion about artificial intelligence (AI), Ubiquitous Computing and the Question of Ethics on the 9th of November 2017 in Vienna. We were happy to have Jeffrey Sachs as our distinguished guest at this 4-hour intense Workshop on the future of AI. Other distinguished speakers were Bernhard Nessler from Johannes Kepler University Linz introducing to the limits of AI as well as Christopher Coenen unveiling the philosophical and historical roots of our desire to created artificial life.
The session and its speakers were structured by three main questions: What can general AI really do from a technical perspective?
What are the historical and philosophical roots of our desire for artificial life?
What sorts of ethical frameworks should AI adhere to?
The speakers argued that there is a need to differentiate between AI (Artificial Intelligence) and AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), where AI (like IBM Watson) needs quality training as well as quality data, lots of hardware and energy. In contrast, AGI is able to work with unstructured data and can have a better energy consumption rate. The other advantage of AGI is that it can react to un- foreseen situations and could be more easily applicable to various areas. One point that was stressed during the debate was that a lot of the terminology used in the scientific field of AI and AGI is borrowed from neuroscience and humans proper intelligence. Since machines – as experts confirmed – do not live up to this promise, using human-related terminology could lead to a misleading of the public as well as overly confident promises by industry.
It was discussed whether the term ”processing” might be more suitable than ”thinking” – at least at the current state.
Another phenomenon could be due to science fiction (Isaac Asimov, Neal Stephenson …) or Movies like ”Her” or ”Ex Machina”, where we rather should differentiate the terms AGI and Artificial Life. What are the socio-cultural, historical and philosophical roots of our desire to create a general artificial intelligence and to diffuse our environments with IT systems? ”The World, the Flesh & the Devil” a book published in 1929 by J. Desmond Bernal was a named inspiration for the concept of the ”mechanical man”. This book in turn provided an excellent introduction into the debate about transhumanism, which often goes hand in hand with the discussion about AI. Some prominent figures in technology – such as Ray Kurzweil or Elon Musk – frequently communicate transhumanistic ideas or philosophies.
What ethical guidance can we use as investors, researchers and developers or use in technical standards to ensure that AI does not get out of control? Concerning this question, there was a general agreement on the need to have some basic standards or even regulations of upcoming AI technology. Providing one example of such standards, the IEEE is working on Ethical Aligned Design guidelines under the leading phrase “Advancing Technology for Humanity.” Here particular hope is put into P7000 (Model Process for Addressing Ethical Concerns During System Design) that sets out to describe value based engineering. Value based engineering is an approach aiming to maximize value potential and minimize value harms for human beings in IT-rich environments. The ultimate goal of value based engineering is human wellbeing.
In conclusion, the event provided an excellent basis for further discussions about AI and it’s ethics for both experts and students alike.
Speakers at the Roundtable:
- Christopher Coenen from the Institute for System Analysis and Technology Impact Assessments in Karlsruhe
- Peter Hampson from the University of Oxford
- Johannes Hoff from the University of London
- Peter Lasinger from Capital 300
- Konstantin Oppel from Xephor Solutions
- Michael Platzer from Mostly AI
- Bill Price who is a Resident Economist
- Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University
- Robert Trappl from the Austrian Research Institute for AI
- Georg Franck who is Professor Emeritus for Spacial Information Systems
- Bernhard Nessler from Johannes Kepler University
- Sarah Spiekermann – Founder of the Privacy & Sustainable Computing Lab and Professor at WU Vienna.
Welcome to the new Privacy and Sustainable Computing Lab blog!
We look forward to having further blog posts listed here in the next few weeks, giving visitors to this website a better insight on what we’re doing. If you have questions about the Lab please don’t hesitate to contact: email@example.com.