100+ Brilliant Women in AI + Ethics

On 16 September, 2019, over 100+ brilliant women working on AI and Ethics (https://www.orbit-rri.org/100-plus-women/) from different sectors gathered together in Oxford University’s Lady Margaret Hall for an inspiring day of discussing the growing power of AI and the responsible and ethical innovation principles that are much needed to govern the rising power of these technologies.

Inspired by the list of 100 Brilliant Women in AI & Ethics published last autumn by Mia Dand of Lighthouse3 and pulled together by the Orbit project team in Oxford (@Carolyn_Ten, Margherita Nulli and @Marenka), this unique conference provided a strong forum for women to gather together and voice their knowledge and concerns about responsible innovations in the age of AI.

The conference focused on three themes – the climate crisis threatening all animal and human life; the growing pushback against untrammelled AI; and the necessity of diversity in STEM disciplines. Researchers, industry specialists, professional advisers and policymakers came together for a day of inspiring conversations, connections and collaborations.

The conference was opened by Prof. Marina Jirokta, PI of the ReEnTrust project, discussing the enormous challenges that we are facing in the rise of AI and the critical role that women could play by contributing a more balanced view and approach to address these challenges.

Speakers for the rest of the day included:

  • Baroness Beeban Kidron on the challenges facing children and young people;
  • Angela McKane on disability diversity;
  • Jacquelyn Krones on ethical AI;
  • Beena Ammanath on why diversity is essential for success in AI;
  • Mia Dand on the list of 100 brilliant women;
  • Dame Wendy Hall on socially responsible AI; and
  • Jeanette Winterson – who has spoken out before on her belief that women will be disproportionately negatively affected by AI – in lively conversation with Baroness Kidron.

The day was also enriched by a panel of A-level students who had entered a competition to attend and discussed their thoughts on artificial intelligence as well as receiving their prizes.

Overall, the conference attracted 150 attendees from more than a dozen countries. From the very beginning, the conference organisation team committed to minimising the environmental impact of the conference – a common challenge for most international conferences. The carbon footprint of all the attendees’ travel was calculated prior to the conference, and various carbon offset actions were taken through a mix of rainforest-protection and tree-planting activities in both southern and northern hemispheres. The effort paid off and the conference was certified as a carbon-neutral event – which we believe is the first carbon-neutral conference that Oxford has hosted.

The enthusiasm of the conference continued long after. The list of brilliant women working on AI+ethics continues to grow: https://lighthouse3.com/diversityinai/.