Government appoints board for new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and outlines future role

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez November 19, 2018
The government has acknowledge that there is a tension between ‘innovation’ and ‘ethics’ - particularly around data sharing. However, the Centre will focus on best agreeing and articulating best practice.

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In what the government is calling a “major coup”, Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright today announced the appointment of the board for the new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

The Centre was announced as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy and highlighted in the £1 billion AI Sector Deal and has been established to ensure the UK is “leading the debate on how data-driven technologies are used for the maximum benefit of society”.

The Centre is chaired by the founder of healthcare data firm Dr Foster, Roger Taylor. Some of the new appointments to the board include:

  • Edwina Dunn, CEO of StarCount; founder and former CEO of Dunnhumby
  • Professor Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at Oxford University. Director of the Digital Ethics Lab, Oxford Internet Institute, Chair of The Alan Turing Institute’s Data Ethics Group
  • Dame Patricia Hodgson, former Chair of Ofcom, Non-Executive Member of the Competition Commission
  • Kriti Sharma, VP Artificial Intelligence at Sage Group; Forbes 30 Under 30 in Technology (2017); United Nations Young Leader in 2018

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, added:

“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.”

Response to consultation

In addition to the board appointments, the government has also published its response to the 12 week consultation it ran with industry and stakeholders on the launch of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

Essentially, the Centre will have three core functions.

  1. Analysing and anticipating gaps in governance and regulation that could impede the ethical and innovative deployment of data and AI;
  2. Agreeing and articulating best practice codes of conduct and standards that can guide ethical and innovative uses of data; and
  3. Advising government on the specific policy or regulatory actions required to address or prevent barriers to innovative and ethical uses of data.

The Centre will have a strong focus on establishing clear guidelines relating to the sharing of public sector data, and the government notes that there can be tension between ‘innovation’ and ‘ethics’, particularly as it relates to data sharing.

The government has said that it expects the Centre to publish its operational strategy by Spring 2019 and that, at least while it’s in its pre-statutory form, will be located in London.

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