The Oxford Internet Institute, part of the University of Oxford, is undertaking a new research programme exploring the Governance of Emerging Technologies (GET). The programme is being funded by a consortium of supporters including The Miami Foundation, The Alan Turing Institute, The British Academy, EPSRC and Luminate.

The new research programme aims to scientifically investigate the legal, ethical and technical aspects of AI, machine learning and other emerging information technologies.

This new programme is coordinated by Prof. Sandra Wachter, a legal scholar; Dr. Brent Mittelstadt, an ethicist; and Dr. Chris Russell – a specialist in machine learning. Working across this trinity of disciplines the programme will address essential challenges posed by emerging technologies, exploring issues such as data protection and inferential analytics, algorithmic bias, fairness, diversity and non-discrimination, as well as explainable and accountable AI.

Key questions set to be explored in this latest research programme from the OII include:

  • Accountability and Explainability – How can we ensure emerging technologies and the people designing them and using them remain open, understandable and accountable to their users and society?
  • Data and Inferences – How can we protect privacy and data protection in the age of AI and inferential analytics?
  • Bias and Fairness – How can we identify, assess and minimise harmful biases, discrimination and unfair outcomes in algorithmic systems and data?

Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow, Dr Sandra Wachter said:

“With new technologies shaping and being shaped by society, it’s important that we encourage beneficial developments whilst not losing sight of the essential rights and values upon which democratic societies are built.  Under the auspices of the new programme we’ll be investigating how to design, deploy and govern the new technologies that pose novel challenges across law, philosophy, computer science and related disciplines”.

To start off the programme brings together four distinct projects at the OII; Explaining Black-Box Decisions, A Right to Reasonable Inferences in Advertising and Financial Services, AI and the Right to Reasonable Algorithmic Inferences, and Ethical Auditing for Automated Decision-Making

Research Fellow, Dr Brent Mittelstadt adds:

“The new programme brings together essential multi-disciplinary work already taking place at the Oxford Internet Institute and we’re very grateful to all our funders for their continued support. Looking ahead we will continue to expand our research portfolio and contribute foundational analyses of the opportunities and challenges of emergent technologies. We look forward to welcoming new collaborators interested in the legal and ethical governance of emerging technologies.”

The new research programme runs until 2022.

For more information please call +44 (0)1865 287 210 or contact press@oii.ox.ac.uk.

Notes to Editors

1.       More information about the Emerging Information Technologies research programme

2.       Previous work published by Associate Professor Dr Sandra Wachter includes:

·         Affinity Profiling and Discrimination by Association in Online Behavioural Advertising

·         A Right to Reasonable Inferences: Re-thinking Data Protection Law in the Age of Big Data and AI,

·         Counterfactual Explanations without Opening the Black Box Automated Decisions and the GDPR

3.       The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) is a multidisciplinary research and teaching department of the University of Oxford, dedicated to the social science of the Internet. Drawing from many different disciplines, the OII works to understand how individual and collective behaviour online shapes our social, economic and political world. Since its founding in 2001, research from the OII has had a significant impact on policy debate, formulation and implementation around the globe, as well as a secondary impact on people’s wellbeing, safety and understanding. Drawing on many different disciplines, the OII takes a combined approach to tackling society’s big questions, with the aim of positively shaping the development of the digital world for the public good. https://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/