The inaugural Anthropology + Technology Conference brought together 150 delegates from around the UK and Europe to discuss socially-responsible AI. The conference took place on 3 October 2019 at the Watershed, a leading arts and media space, on Bristol’s historic harbourside.
The aim of the conference was to invite the tech industry to start thinking about the societal impact of this so-called “fourth industrial revolution” alongside scientists who have deep knowledge of and about people and society: anthropologists and sociologists. Socially-responsible technology design and development is a challenge for us all, and it’s important to have these conversations. Together.
Talks and presentations
With 25 conversations on socially-responsible AI including 6 keynote talks by leading academic and industry experts from anthropology, technology, and law, this conference inspired new ways of thinking about technology design and development. Our delegates were invited to have in-depth conversations with our leading experts during our keynote Q&A sessions, resulting in a day packed with dialogue and debates.
Nick Sturge MBE, Director of the Engine Shed, formally opened our inaugural conference and highlighted the importance of the social sciences and technologists working together to design and develop technology, which is highly relevant to Bristol’s thriving tech scene.
Throughout the day our six keynotes talked to the theme:
- Julien Cornebise, AI for Good?
- Simon Roberts, Bodies, Brains, and Intelligence
- Joanna J Bryson, The Bioanthropology of Intelligent Technology
- Gloria González Fuster, The Data Makers: Who are They, and How to Understand Them?
- Roelof Pieters, Speculations in Anthropology and Technology for an Uncertain Future
- Anna Kirah + Alex Moltzau, Transcending Disciplinary Boundaries in Solving the Dilemmas of the Present
In conversation with
Following the morning and afternoon keynotes, delegates were invited to spend 30 minutes with a keynote for an in-depth Q&A session. Four of these sessions were moderated by the following people:
- Ken Banks, Head of Social Purpose, Yoti. In conversation with Julien Cornebise.
- Gemma Milne, Science and Technology Writer. In conversation with Simon Roberts.
- Prof. Jo Tacchi, Associate Dean for Research, Loughborough University London. In conversation with Joanna J. Bryson.
- Kiran Morjaria, Anthropologist at Ovo Energy. In conversation with Gloria González Fuster.
Roelof Pieters, Anna Kirah, and Alex Moltzau held a joint ‘In conversation with’ session, without a moderator.
Powered by PechaKucha! presenters
18 Powered by Pechakucha! talks across three rooms:
- What’s in the black box? Akil Benjamin
- To regulate AI, demystify AI. Tariq Rashid
- Scary black boxes: Why explanation lies at the heart of socially-responsible AI. Tom Bewley
- The ideology of infallibility. Joseph Wilk
- Failing to work with me. The implications of creating rigid algorithms. Corina Enache & Anna Aris
- Opportunities in the industrial strategy. Adam Luqmani
- Understanding the ethical implications of data’s collection, sharing and use. Miranda Marcus
- AI in medicine: Informed consent and unintended consequences. Laura Sobola
- Bias, AI, and recruitment. Nemo D’Qrill
- What does “The Man” say when AI discriminates? How does “The Man” find out? Jani Turunen
- Responsible innovation in the smart city: Commitments for digital inclusion. Catherine Makin
- Operational & ethical challenges in the police use of Automated Facial Recognition. Inspector Scott Lloyd
- Design fiction: Using design & sociology to shape AI futures. Judith Mühlenhoff
- A series of disobedient provocations for reclaiming future AI technologies. Birgitte Aga & Coral Manton
- How should we design conversational AI in order to provide emotional support? Ellie Foreman
- Social responsibility and reciprocity in synthetic friendships. Aliya Mirza
- Ever-listening assistants: Privacy and convenience in the use of AI smart speakers. Laura Musgrave
- Participatory video & design thinking for inclusive AI design. Chris Lunch
- Rakhi Rajani, Associate Partner, QuantumBlack (Panel Chair)
- Prof David Prendergast, Professor in Science, Technology & Society, Maynooth University
- Prof Kate Robson Brown, Director, Jean Golding Institute (JGI), University of Bristol
- Dagmar Steffens, Lead for LegalTech, UWE
- Dr Mark Woods, Head of Autonomy and Robotics Group, SciSys.
What people said about the day
“A phenomenal conference which provided me with an enormous amount of inspiration, and food for thought.”
“It was a friendly, diverse gathering – well organised and really enlightening.”
“This was a daring event with great speakers.”
“This year was a taster for me and perhaps for many people – and it was wonderful. I look forward to further discussions on fundamental anthro-tech questions and meeting more people in the field.”
“Such a buzz in the room, and it brought together a real range of people with a shared purpose. Some who fell neatly into one of the two camps, but many who didn’t and that made the discussions really interesting.”
“This was a meeting of social scientists and technologists that should be global phenomenon.” Phil D Hall.
“Wow, brilliant, mind-stretching day at Anthropology + Technology Conference. Amazing speakers and inspirational conversations.” Gwen Edwards.
“A conversation long overdue.” Pat Walshe, Privacy Matters.
“This was a revolutionary conference and people are ready to ACT now not just TALK!” Anna Kirah, 2019 keynote.
“A really insightful event focussing on creating a dialogue around AI and Responsibility between social scientists and technologists. Combining different perspectives and sharing expertise is essential to ensure responsible and transparent used of AI technologies.” Angus Williams, MEng student, Bristol University.
“A fabulous, thoughtful day exploring legal, policy, social science and technologist perspectives on making intelligent tech accountable.” Rita Denny, Executive Director, EPIC.
“Fascinating day listening, learning and talking about socially responsible AI…an important conversation has been started here.” Prof David Prendergast, 2019 panellist.
Organisers and conference partners
Dawn Walter, Founder and Managing Director, Mundy & Anson
- AAN, EASA Applied Anthropology Network
- Marles + Barclay
- Maynooth University
- Tech4Good SouthWest
Facilitated networking session
Jonathan Rees, Momoho