In-person event

Where are AI’s publics?

What role should the public have in shaping Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Should the public have a voice in how AI is being developed and used, and how it’s governed and regulated? And how might a diverse cross section of the public be involved in the decisions made by big tech, regulatory bodies, and local and national government?

5 June 2024
3:30 - 6:30pm
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Where are AI’s publics?

Image credit: Anton Grabolle / Better Images of AI / AI Architecture / CC-BY 4.0

Noortje Marres, Bettina Nissen and Alison Powell will invite discussion on the public’s role in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Through prompts and engagements with a diverse audience, they’ll discuss tilting the balance away from those actors and agencies who usually wield the power. Opening a space for alternatives, they’ll explore possibilities for involving the public in the developments and uses of AI and how it is governed and regulated.

About this event

What role should the public have in shaping Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Should the public have a voice in how AI is being developed and used, and how it’s governed and regulated? And how might a diverse cross section of the public be involved in the decisions made by big tech, regulatory bodies, and local and national government?

AI is having an undeniable impact on daily life. From the apps and services we use on our digital devices to the infrastructures that surround us in our built environments, AI is being deployed to categorise and classify complex information and in some cases make decisions on people’s behalf. Take, for example, the role of AI in healthcare and medical diagnosis, the use of AI in self-driving cars and transport infrastructure, or wider civic or urban planning policies being informed by AI. The range of innovations that fall under AI are cutting across all walks of life.

Given this widespread and pervasive presence of AI in the everyday, what’s startling is the absence of a public voice in decision making, and in particular decisions being made about AI safety, governance and regulation. The social and ethical challenges arising from AI continue to attract attention, but commentary and decisions are circling amongst sector leaders, policy makers, and politicians. The question increasingly being asked is “where are the public?”

This open event will invite discussion on the public’s role in AI. How should the public be involved in AI’s development and use, and in what ways might the public be consulted and engaged in the decisions likely to have significant impacts on their lives. Our speakers, Noortje Marres, Bettina Nissen and Alison Powell will respond to prompts and engage with a diverse audience around questions of public involvement and participation in AI. The aim will be to shift the focal point of decision making away from the usual actors, and make the space for alternative voices and ideas in AI.

15:30 – 17:30 In conversation: Noortje Marres, Bettina Nissen and Alison Powell
17:30 – 18:30Reception

Limited seats at Inspace are available, please book tickets in advance.

Contributors

Noortje Marres is Professor in Science, Technology and Society in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick (UK). She studied sociology and philosophy of science and technology at the University of Amsterdam, and has conducted extensive research on participation and publics in technological societies. Noortje is currently developing new work in the area of AI and Society, with a special focus on the curation of environments for AI innovation in society and the implications for public participation. She just completed a Leverhulme Fellowship on intelligent technology testing beyond the laboratory, and is the project lead for the scoping project “AI in the street” as part of the AHRC-funded BRAID programme for Bridging Divides in Responsible AI. Noortje also is a Visiting Professor in the Media of Cooperation research centre at the University of Siegen (Germany) and an external faculty member of the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands). She has published three books Material Participation (2012), Digital Sociology (2017) and Inventing the Social (2018, co-edited with Michael Guggenheim and Alex Wilkie).

Bettina Nissen headshot

Dr Bettina Nissen is a Lecturer in Interaction Design and researcher in Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. With a background in product and interaction design, digital fabrication and data physicalisation, her practice-based research focuses on engaging audiences with complex technological concepts and data through tangible means and makings. Bettina completed her AHRC-funded PhD in Human Computer Interaction at Newcastle University in 2018 and has recently worked on a series of RCUK-funded research projects spanning topics of trust and consent in pervasive environments (part of EPSRC-funded PACTMAN) and the future of value(s) (part of ESRC-funded collaboration After Money with the Royal Bank of Scotland and New Economics Foundation). Bettina is currently working with the People’s Bank of Govanhill and artist Ailie Rutherford in Glasgow to explore feminist economic approaches to cryptocurrencies through craft and knitting.

Dr Alison Powell headshot

Dr Alison Powell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she also serves as Programme Director for the MSc Media and Communications (Data and Society). She researches rights, ethics and values in technology design – focusing on living well together in cities and imagining alternative media futures.

This event is organised by the AHRC BRAID Programme funded project, AI in the Street: Scoping everyday observatories for public engagement with connected and automated urban environments. The event has been supported by the AHRC BRAID Programme in conjunction with the Edinburgh Futures Institute and Inspace, part of the Institute for Design Informatics.

AI in the Street is a collaborative project exploring the divergences between principles of responsible AI and the messy reality of AI as encountered in the street, in the form of automated vehicles and surveillance infrastructure. The aim is to ground understandings of AI in lived experiences. The project’s collaborators are based at the University of Warwick, University of Edinburgh, King’s College London, Cambridge University, Monash University and Careful Industries.

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