Stellar new board appointed to lead world-first Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation

In a major coup to cement the UK’s position as a world-leader in the development of artificial intelligence, the Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright will today confirm Robert Winston, Dame Patricia Hodgson and Kriti Sharma are among the expert advisers appointed to shape the work of the world’s first Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

Roger Taylor, chair of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation

The Centre is chaired by the founder of healthcare data firm Dr Foster, Roger Taylor.  It has been established to make sure the UK is leading the debate on how data-driven technologies are used for the maximum benefit of society.

It will analyse and anticipate gaps in the governance landscape, agree and set out best practice to guide ethical and innovative uses of data, and advise government on the need for specific policy or regulatory action. This will help make sure new technologies and data are used responsibly so they support the country’s businesses and society.

The Government will also today publish its response to the consultation on the role and objectives of the Centre. There was strong support from respondents and its first projects will explore the use of data in shaping people’s online experiences. It will also investigate the potential for bias in decisions made using algorithms.

Announced in the Industrial Strategy and highlighted in the £1 billion AI Sector Deal, the Centre is a further step forward in realising the full potential of artificial intelligence in the UK. Estimates suggest it could be worth as much as £232bn to the UK economy by 2030.

Ahead of a speech at the Open Data Institute’s annual summit, Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “We are a world-leader in artificial intelligence and our modern Industrial Strategy puts pioneering technologies at the heart of our plans to build a Britain which is fit for the future.

“But it is crucial that the public have confidence it is being used to improve people’s lives and we have the right expertise and framework in place to maximise its potential.

“I am pleased we have secured global leaders from academia and industry to work alongside us as we develop the world’s first Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.”

Roger Taylor, chair of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, said: “I am excited to have such a high calibre Board in place to lead the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. It is vital powerful data-driven technologies such as artificial intelligence are deployed in the interests of society while supporting innovation.

“I look forward to working closely with my new board members to develop our work-plan and prioritising the issues we need to consider.”

Kriti Sharma, vice president of Artificial Intelligence at Sage Group, said: “I’m delighted to be appointed to the Board and can’t wait to get started. Augmenting human skills with ethically designed, data driven technology has the potential to help business thrive like never before. Effective use can bring enormous benefits and improve people’s lives – saving them time, resources and enabling them to become more productive.

“The Centre will play a key role in making sure we have an environment which supports ethical innovation and position the UK as a world leader in the development of AI.”

From trust to practical and legal obstacles, organisations looking to access or share data can often face a range of barriers. To help solve this issue, Jeremy Wright will also confirm the Government’s Office for AI – a joint unit between DCMS and BEIS – will now work with the Open Data Institute to explore the future potential of data trusts quicker and more efficiently.

A data trust will allow two or more organisations to share data in a safe, fair and ethical way so they can work together to tackle problems such as recycling, food waste or speeding up construction projects. This may be a local council sharing data on food recycling with a start-up firm, for example.

In a separate stand of work, the Government is working with the Competition and Markets Authority to clampdown on the practice of retailers targeting online shoppers and charging people different prices for the same items, such as holidays, cars and household goods.

The research, using anonymised customer data, will explore whether and how personalised pricing exploits personal data points such as a consumer’s address, marital status, birthday and travel history for unwanted targeting.

The Government is also establishing an AI Council, chaired by Cognition X’s Tabitha Goldstaub, to oversee implementation of its AI Sector Deal, promote industry-to-industry cooperation in the field, boost the understanding of AI in the business world, and identify barriers to growth and innovation.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Artificial Intelligence has rapidly become a part of everyday life – whether you use online banking, apps to hail a cab or for your weekly online shop.

“Given the pace with which the industry is evolving, we must ensure that it continues to be used as a force for good, especially where it involves personal data. That is why I announced the establishment of the world’s first Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.  I’m pleased that such esteemed individuals, leaders in their fields, will be taking forward this important work.”

Jeni Tennison, CEO at the Open Data Institute said: “At the ODI we believe everyone should get the best value from today’s abundance of data. We welcome the launch of the UK’s new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and look forward to working closely with Roger and his team to build an open, trustworthy data ecosystem.

“Our work across the world has highlighted that alongside getting value from data we need to retain trust in how it is used and shared. Data trusts are a potential new way to help realise the benefits of data while preventing any harmful impacts. We’re delighted to be exploring them further with the Office for AI to find out where they might be useful.”

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