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Digital Catapult establishes Ethics Committee to help translate responsible AI theory into practice

Posted 9 Aug 2018

London 9 July 2018 – Digital Catapult launches the Machine Intelligence Garage Ethics Committee, an independent body dedicated to realising responsible artificial intelligence (AI) development in the UK.

The responsible use of algorithms and data is paramount for the sustainable development of machine intelligence applications, as concluded by the recent House of Lords Artificial Intelligence Committee report [1] . However, at present, there is a gap between theory and practice, between the ‘what’ of responsible AI and the ‘how’. There is demand from all sizes of organisation for help on defining and applying ethical standards in practice.

The Machine Intelligence Garage Ethics Committee, chaired by Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information & Digital Ethics Lab Director at University of Oxford, will convene some of the foremost minds in AI and data ethics to address this need. It will comprise two elements: the Steering Group, who will oversee the development of principles and tools to facilitate responsible AI in practice, and the Working Group, who will work closely with startups developing their propositions through Digital Catapult’s Machine Intelligence Garage programme.

While the programme itself provides access to expertise and computational power, the Working Group’s collaboration with Machine Intelligence Garage startups will ensure that the Committee’s work is tested and grounded in practice.

Dr. Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult comments; “The role of the Machine Intelligence Garage Ethics Committee extends beyond regulation. This group of leading thinkers will be working hands-on with cohorts of AI companies to help ensure that the products and services they deliver have an ethical approach in their design and execution. A number of other organisations are also approaching these issues, notably the Ada Lovelace Institute and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation with whom we look forward to collaborating. The reason why this eminent group is so keen to work with Digital Catapult is because we are closer to the street and working with real companies developing real machine learning and AI applications in which ethical issues will become more readily apparent and addressable.”

Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information –Director at Digital Ethics Lab – Oxford Internet Institute – University of Oxford, adds; “The development of AI is accelerating – and everyday we’re witnessing new proof of its huge potential. However, its development and applications have significant ethical implications, and we would be naïve not to deal with them. I’m honoured to be leading such a noteworthy group to deliver a set of principles and tools to guide the ethical development and use of AI moving forward.”

Now convened, the Machine Intelligence Garage Ethics Committee will begin work refining its guiding principles for responsible AI development, enabling companies to evaluate their work for risks, benefits, compliance with data and privacy legislation and social impact and inclusiveness among other criteria. The first working principles will be delivered in September 2018.

The Committee welcomes feedback and opportunities for collaboration. Contact us at [email protected]

[1] “AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?”

Please see below for the full list of Steering Board and Working Group members:

Steering Board Members:

Working Group Members:

  • Shahar Avin, Research Associate at Centre for the study of Existential Risk (CSER)
  • Josh Cowls, Data Ethics Researcher at The Alan Turing Institute
  • Christine Henry, Product Manager, Real World Insights at IQVIA
  • Laura James, Entrepreneur in Residence at Cambridge Computer Lab
  • Burkhard Schafer, Professor of computational legal theory at University of Edinburgh
  • Hetan Shah, Executive Director at Royal Statistical Society

For further information please contact:

Brands2Life, [email protected], 020 7592 1200



Notes to editors

About Digital Catapult:

Digital Catapult is the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation centre, driving early adoption of technologies to make UK businesses more competitive, productive and ultimately grow the country’s economy.
By connecting large established companies, startup and scaleup businesses and researchers, Digital Catapult discovers new ways to solve big challenges in the manufacturing and creative industries. Through this collaboration, businesses can develop the right technologies to solve problems, increase productivity and open up new markets faster.

Digital Catapult provides physical and digital facilities for experimentation and testing that would otherwise not be accessible for smaller companies. As well as breaking down barriers to technology adoption for startups and scaleups, the centre is de-risking innovation for large enterprises and uncovering new commercial applications in immersive, future networks, and artificial intelligence technologies.
For more info please visit