Anthropology + Technology: Why now?

The Anthropology + Technology conference brings together pioneering technologists and social scientists from across the globe. Its aim is to facilitate dialogue on emerging technology projects in order to help businesses benefit from more socially-responsible AI.

Over the last few years, both academics and the media have documented the negative effects of automated decision-making (AI) in areas such as policing, finance, credit reporting, and administration of public programmes.

Today, these issues are still prevalent. As AI becomes more widely adopted, pioneering leaders are realising the importance of assessing the impact of technology on both their businesses and society as a whole.

AI can provide unparalleled opportunities but without the correct processes, it can also have a detrimental impact on people’s futures and a business’s reputation.

As such, the need for an ethical framework and the perspective of anthropologists has never been more critical.

“The social sciences might help us understand the promises and risks of our new situation.”
Prof. Joanna Bryson,
University of Bath

Anthropologists can add value to technology projects by helping technologists understand:

  • how their technology can align and integrate with human workers — what aspects can be automated and what needs to be done by humans. In other words, how humans and machines can work together successfully rather than in opposition to each other.
  • the socio-cultural context in which their technologies are being designed to help them successfully design products for the many, not just the few.

Objectives

The Anthropology + Technology conference exists to create dialogue around these important topics. It highlights the opportunities of today’s cutting-edge technology while simultaneously showing how socially-responsible AI is the only way we can all truly benefit.

The conference has been curated to help leading technology companies understand the value of combining teams of technologists with social scientists, and to create a forum for leaders from both fields to network and share ideas.

“We’re building tremendously powerful algorithms and we have a responsibility. How do we impact the world with it… We’re scientists, we’re engineers but we’re not experts on how can we apply it.”
Dr Julien Cornebise, Honorary Associate Professor, UCL

The conference will highlight the benefits of taking a socially-responsible approach to AI and showcases the practical steps anthropologists and technologists can take to better work together for our collective benefit.

On the day, inspiring tech leaders and anthropologists will highlight:

  • the benefits of developing socially-responsible AI
  • how to develop socially-responsible AI
  • how to overcome key challenges
  • how businesses and society can benefit.

Who will you meet?

The conference will attract international business leaders, academics, and innovators in the fields of artificial intelligence, computer science, cybersecurity, data science, human rights, law, medicine, and social science.

At our conference you will meet:

  • Researchers and scientists working in tech companies and academia — computer science, data science, artificial intelligence, medicine.
  • Anthropologists and sociologists from business and academia.
  • Technology innovators and founders, primarily involved in tech start-ups.
  • Post-graduate students (MSc, MA, PhD).

Format

An exciting and dynamic programme across two days. On the first day, a keynote talk, 18 short talks by leading speakers across three themes (health tech, smart cities, fintech), group discussions on key topics, and a four-speaker panel. Multiple opportunities for people to network with their fellow delegates, the speakers, and our conference partners. On the second day there are numerous online workshops.