Dr Mariarosaria Taddeo has been appointed as Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) Ethics Fellow at The Alan Turing Institute. Dr Taddeo is a leading cybersecurity expert and is currently a Turing Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute (OII) Senior Research Fellow, and Deputy Director of the OII’s Digital Ethics Lab.

Dr Taddeo will be the Principal Investigator on a two-year research project focusing on the ethical implications of the use of data science and AI for national security and defence. This spans from improving robustness, resilience, and responses of systems that support logistical, tactical and strategic operations, as well as wider applications in urban analytics, cybersecurity and social data science.

The major opportunities and advantages that data science and AI bring are coupled with significant ethical concerns and risks.

This project will embrace expertise in digital ethics and military ethics to shed light on the many ethical questions concerning the design, development, and deployment of data science and AI for security and defence.

It will address questions ranging from how to trust these technologies, how to ascribe moral responsibilities for the actions performed by autonomous artificial agents, and under which conditions the deployment of data science and AI for security and defence is ethically justifiable, in order to minimise unethical uses, unintended consequences and address a lack of ethical guidance in deploying these technologies.

Dr Taddeo will lead the development of ethical guidelines for responsible innovation practices to help ensure the smooth transition of these technologies from research into real-world defence applications. In addition, she will help the national and international defence sector and the greater AI innovation ecosystem both to anticipate future moral and ethical issues and to articulate values and priorities.

The project is funded under the Dstl-Turing Fellowship Scheme of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Ministry of Defence, UK) and the Turing’s Defence and Security Programme, with whom Dr Taddeo will collaborate closely to develop actionable guidance that will contribute to policy-making efforts and to inform the public debate.

Remarking on her appointment, Dr Taddeo said, “Data science and artificial intelligence present a wide range of possible uses for national security and defence purposes. All of these opportunities pose pressing ethical issues that are crucial to address while designing and developing technologies and before they are deployed. I am truly delighted to be able to work on these issues, leveraging the expertise of Dstl, the Turing’s Defence and Security Programme, and University of Oxford”

Chief Executive of Dstl Gary Aitkenhead added that “Dstl is excited to be working with Rosaria over the next two years to drive research that will ensure Defence’s understanding of the ethical implications of AI and Data Science remains at the core of our thinking.”