Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer sci-fi. From driverless cars to the use of machine learning algorithms to improve healthcare services and the financial industry, AI and algorithms are shaping our daily practices and a fast-growing number of fundamental aspects of our societies.

This can lead to dangerous situations in which vital decision making is automated – for instance in credit scoring or sentencing – but limited policies exist for citizens subject to such AI technologies embedded in our social institutions to seek redress. Similarly, well-intended technologists might release AI into society that is ethically unsound.

These issues taken together are leading to a renewed focus on, and increasing concern about, the ethical and legal impact of AI on our societies. A growing body of literature on improving the auditability and transparency of algorithms is being developed. More is needed to further a shared understanding of the fundamental issues at the heart of the debate on AI, algorithms, the law, and ethics.

Which is why the Oxford Internet Institute’s Digital Ethics Lab (DELab) is organising a series of two workshops on AI, ethics, and the law. These workshops will take place at the Alan Turing Institute in London in January 2018

The first workshop (day one) is entitled “Ethics and AI governance”. It focuses on ethics and AI, and addresses the foundational questions: What ethical principles (e.g. justice, fairness, equality) should underpin the governance of AI? And who should be in charge of ensuring that AI will be a force for good? The second workshop (day two), is entitled “Explainable and Accountable Algorithms”. It does a deep dive into the legal and policy mechanisms for ensuring transparency and fairness in AI, as well as algorithmic explainability and accountability. Because we believe in engaging the public in these important debates, the first day will end with a public panel discussion at the Alan Turing Institute.

The workshops will bring together a small, selected, international group of experts in the fields of AI, ethics, law, computer science, and politics from different sectors, including academia, the private sector, and political institutions. The invited experts will discuss real-life case-studies as well as more theoretical issues, with the aim of narrowing the divide between the pace of technological development and the ethical and legal frameworks guiding its impact. The goal of this cumulative approach is to facilitate serious, substantive discussion among participants with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

A selection of papers, based on the workshop discussions, will be published in a special issue of the topic in 2018.