Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information, and Director of the Digital Ethics Lab of the Oxford Internet Institute, is to sit on the Board of the Government’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. Professor Floridi’s appointment was announced today by Rt Hon Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital Culture, in his speech at the open Data Institute Summit.

He will join a number of expert advisors including Robert Winston and Krita Sharma, who will work to shape the UK’s position as leaders in the field of artificial intelligence.

The Centre is the first of its kind, and was established to support work towards maximising the potential of artificial intelligence in the UK. In particular, shaping policy on how data-driven technologies are used, and crucially, to ensure that these technologies and data in general are used responsibly for the maximum benefit of society. It aims to analyse and anticipate gaps in the governance landscape, determine and set out best practice to guide ethical and innovative uses of data, and advise government on the need for specific policy or regulatory action.

First proposed in the government’s Industrial Strategy and highlighted further in the £1 billion AI Sector Deal, the Centre is a further step forward in realising the full potential of artificial intelligence in the UK. Estimates suggest it could be worth as much as £232bn to the UK economy by 2030.

Image credit: OU

Professor Luciano Floridi. Image credit: OU

Professor Floridi is best known for his work around data ethics and the relationship between philosophy and information. His research concerns primarily Information and Computer Ethics (aka Digital Ethics), the Philosophy of Information, and the Philosophy of Technology. He has published over a 150 papers in these areas, in many anthologies and peer-reviewed journals and his works have been translated into many languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Dutch and Russian.

Of his appointment and the role that he hopes the board will play in society, he said: ‘I am delighted and deeply honoured to be able to contribute to this crucial and timely project. Digital ethics can be an extraordinary enabling force to support technological solutions that are socially good, and the Centre places our country in a world leading position. I look forward to this important commitment.’

Rt Hon Jeremy Wright, said: ‘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.

‘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.’

Alongside the appointment announcements, the government today published a document outlining the role and objectives of the Centre. Initial projects will explore the use of data in shaping people’s online experiences and investigate the potential for bias in decisions made using algorithms.