Digital Debate 8: Joining the Public Discourse on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
The digital transformation is all encompassing: consumer electronics, online shopping and education, eGovernment and Gig work. Lately, machine learning systems are deployed in human resources management, the insurance industry, in police work and elsewhere. And as our societies undergo this transformation so do civil society organisations (CSOs). What started with digitalized back offices, eMail and accounting, has evolved further: Today, even CSOs are collecting and processing data, using biometrics and bots, are experimenting with artificial intelligence. Some CSOs have entered into alliances with tech companies while others keep their distance, criticizing their business models and advocating and campaigning for change.
As part of the 2021 edition of the Global Perspectives conference, the 8th Digital Debate of the Centre has decided to put Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence on the agenda.
There is agreement that the potential of these new technologies to disrupt and transform our societies are enormous and that therefore they should be subject of a public discourse. However, that begs the question on how grass root communities, civil society, and civil society organisations (CSOs) can firstly join and secondly help shape public debate about these technologies? Given that most CSOs have mandates related to social justice and human rights and relatively limited expertise on digital technology, even less on machine learning and artificial intelligence, our panel will explore the following key questions: How can CSOs initiate and participate in a meaningful way in the overall public debate? Or to put it differently: What should CSOs do to understand technological trends and outcomes, know what conversations to have, how to influence technological developments and regulatory frameworks, and, eventually, what technology to challenge or use for themselves and with their communities?