Workshop on Inequalities in the age of AI, what they are, how they work and what we can do about them - 19/11 - Brussels


Are certain technologies more likely to lead to an outcome of increased justice than others?

The Forum on inequalities and diversity – a coalition between civil society organizations and researchers headed by Fabrizio Barca, former Minister of Treasury in Italy - recently released a report called 15 proposals for justice. The report gives prominence to the consequences of technical innovation on inequalities and justice.

Globally, increasing inequalities have generated widespread injustice. Fear, resentment, and anger have escalated among the more vulnerable sections of society, giving rise to an authoritarian dynamic. We propose that this state of affairs is not inevitable; it is, rather, the result of a U-turn in policy and culture that has taken place over the last 30 years.

This evening event convenes policy makers and academics and technologists to look in more depth at the issue of how equality and justice are encoded in technological choices.

We are going to look at the main technologies being developed in the Next Generation Internet debate and explore how AI and Internet Infrastructure impact on indicators of equality and justice. Putting in the same room technologists, economists and social scientists should allow for a more holistic perspective.

Hopefully, we can provide some material to the European Parliament and European Commision that will shape the governance of and investment in a Next Generation Internet that sets the conditions for improved social justice and equality.


To ensure a deep, technical, discussion we depart from a set of case studies.

Ahead of the event: we collectively do research and collect stories of well-documented incidents where certain injustices manifested. We post them here on the platform and invite people to post questions/reflections in comments to help us develop them into good case studies.

During the event: We split the participants into different groups based on the case study of interest to them. Each group is well composed in terms of the areas of expertise of participants needed to have a deep, rich and pragmatic discussion around “their” case study. And look at the interdependencies in terms of policy, business models, behaviours and technological choices. The session ends with a fishbowl discussion.

After the event: The documentation from the discussions are redacted to ensure privacy of participants, then posted on the online discussion space for the festival. This enables us to do a number of things -

  • easily reconnect with people we met across shared/complimentary interests
  • build a high quality report summarising what knowledge has emerged from the discussions
  • keep everyone informed about new, relevant, opportunities for professional and personal development, follow up events etc

We can also accommodate remote participation, there is a separate process for this. Just leave a comment below or email me for more info:


Tickets to this event are free of charge: Edgeryders Forms

Who is coming?

  • Fabrizio Barca - Founder, Forum on Inequalities and diversity I Ex General Director , Italian Ministry of Economy & Finance.

  • Seda F. Gürses - Assistant Professor in the Department of Multi-Actor Systems at TU Delft at the Faculty of Technology Policy and Management. Studies conceptions of privacy and surveillance in online social networks, requirements engineering, privacy enhancing technologies and identity management systems

  • Kate J Sim - Phd researcher at Oxford Internet Institute: employs employs ethnographically-informed methods to uncover how gendered assumptions and values are encoded in emerging data/AI-driven systems. Kate’s question for the workshop: Can tech design for survivors?

  • Marco Manca - Member of Nato Working group on Meaningful Human Control over AI-based systems. Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors at SCimPulse Foundation.

  • Nadia Alter: Impact Director, Edgeryders

  • Justin Nogarede: Digital Policy Adviser , Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS)

  • Remote contributions from Corinne Cath-Speth - PhD Candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute and Alan Turing Institute for AI. Read what Corinne has to say about the impact these technologies have on how Civil Society will work in the near future?

Frequently asked questions

When and where is it happening?

Date: November 19, 2019
Time: 18:00 - 21:00
Location: Brussels. Venue is Digityser on Boulevard d’Anvers 40, 1000 Bruxelles

How do I get an invitation/ticket to this workshop?

Register here:

Please note: This event is bringing together people who are currently directly involved in building, researching, regulating, monetising and or providing meaningful input into the wider debate around the technologies in question. We want to ensure that every participant leaves the venue having presented and discussed their work with others who can provide meaningful input or connect them with opportunities to further their professional and or personal development. If this appeals to you, then we would love to have you join us.

How is this event being organised?

This event, and the festival it is part of, is coordinated on the edgeryders platform (where you are now) and co-curated through a series of community video calls. We have allocated a collaboratively managed budget for the festival and operate on a solidarity basis. Participants who need some financial support to organise or be able to participate in the festival are eligible provided they contribute towards making it a meaningful and generative experience for all - in the run up to, during and/or after the event. If you would like to join us but are unsure as to how to contribute, don’t worry. Create an edgeryders account, then tell us a bit about yourself here and we will guide you along from there.

I (@nadia) am coordinating this event, with @rmdes (venue and communication support), and @J_Noga (Moderation and session preparation) and @inge (documentation coordination) Some people have been specially invited as guests because the work they are doing right now and their expertise will help ensure that the discussion is based on case studies, credible data and hands on experience.

How is this all financed?

This event is part of the NGI Forward project Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, launched by the European Commission in the autumn of 2016. It has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 825652 from 2019-2021. You can learn more about the initiative and our involvement in it at

Ngi logo

Eu emblem

Does getting involved mean I endorse the funders views or actions?

No. What you are doing is contributing to an open consultation on the topic of how to build a next generation of internet infrastructure, technologies, business models etc that promotes the wellbeing of humans and the natural environment. The consultation methodology is designed in such a way as to allow for diversity of views, premises, disciplines, themes and contexts. We employ open notebook science principles and the results will be presented in the form of a research report accessible to everyone after the event. You can follow the process, review the methodology and open source tech we are using and engage directly with the research and coordination team here:

What is the code of conduct?

It is important to us that everyone in the room feels welcomed and safe; if you have any particular concerns or needs just send me a PM here on the platform or write to .

The Edgeryders online platform technology and activities are intended for people to cooperate within and across projects trying to build a better world. The word “better” has here a fairly broad range of meaning. These Community Guidelines are here to help you understand what it means to be a member of Edgeryders. Don’t forget that your use of Edgeryders is subject to these Community Guidelines and our Terms of Service.

What happens with my data?

You can read about our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy here. Also:


This is very useful, thanks for creating, @nadia!

And very interesting and exciting indeed. It did remind of the AI and journalism conversation that @natalia_skoczylas started, @soenke also added an interesting link. This is more about how AI can help fight fake news, but freedom of information and access to truthful information also help build a more equal and fair society.

About the speakers, I do think it would be nice to open the floor indeed. When it comes to tech and inequality I always have to think about @hexayurt - tho he’s currently more focussed on blockchain than AI I believe?

From the other side, there’s this young Georgian entrepreneur who’s co-founded this (Boston-based) really successful HR and AI software - based on the data they collected they were able to prove gender inequality in the work force, and the reasons behind it. His name is Archil Cheishvili (I did a small profile about him for Forbes Georgia last year).

I’ll think a bit more about it


I nominate @RobvanKranenburg. Reason: both he and Fabrizio are interested in positive narratives of technical change, each for their own reason. They also come from very different backgrounds, with complementary knowledge.

Rob, would you be interested? In this case, could you write a paragraph on how you would approach this topic?




As partner in the NGI Strategy CSA I am pushing ‘identity’ (this is a personal communication, not from the project) as the key enabler for a smart society for all based on solidarity between humans, machines and resources. About fifteen years ago I realized the agency was on the passport, and key identity management : the issuer, validator, in our case the national state. Because of various reasons I believe that model is gone and breakdown and fragmentation around the corner. There is still some vitality left I believe in the EU as a 500 million zone. In the Digital Transition the war is won in three battles. Europe already lost two, data and platforms. We are on the brink of losing the third: AI hitting Big Data building new services on combinations of temporary identities (chimeras of synthetic material and real people combined, or fully synthetic) that will create a seamless flow between:

The BAN (body area network): e.g. the ambient hearing aide, the smart T-shirts, lenses, glasses,

The LAN (local area network): e.g. the smart meter as a home interface, any consumer device,

The WAN (wide area network): the bike, car, train, bus, plane

The VWAN (very wide area network): the smart city as e-government services

everywhere; no longer tied to physical locations or the agency and consent of individual people.

It is highly likely that monitoring mechanisms will be built into devices themselves: for example, “if a guest is charging their electric car at a friend’s house, we should consider applications that will understand that the charge should appear on the guest’s electric bill and not that of the friend.” (Example from our Springer book Enabling Things to Talk: Designing IoT solutions with the IoT …

Alessandro Bassi, ‎Martin Bauer, ‎Martin Fiedler - 2013 - ‎Computers

… Thorsten Kramp, Rob van Kranenburg, Sebastian Lange, Stefan Meissner … that the charge should appear on the guest’s electric bill and not that of the friend. … 16 tagged items or …)

Now we should pool all skillsets and intelligences into building a 500 million zone architecture that creates the opportunities for building value with datasets and new services in a coherent, safe, secure and privacy preserving way in an EU governance that is techno-political… The governance of that pragmatic cybernetics is something you/we should be focusing on, not on creating individual pathways for people to decouple from commercial services, in a time where society itself as we know it is a breaking point.

I received an invitation (as founder of one of the largest IOT networks, to talk about Internet of Things from the GFF ‘and the Italian Intelligence community’, Transformational Technologies #4: Implications for an Expanding Threat Environment September 17-18, 2012 Rome, Italy. In the afternoon five breakout groups (senior intelligence, police and military, SOCA, CIA, MI6, Homeland Security…) came back with five scenarios of major threats: one was military, two were about DIY Bio and two were about the ‘total breakdown of society’, because of the inability of current institutions to deal with the digital. It was quite crazy to see my own breakdown scenario of 2000 played back by institutional analysts.

This is now 7 years ago.

The trouble with the kind of thinking that I propose is that it has always been seen, from Cybersin by Stafford Beert to the current Chinese credit system, as a system of top down control, whereas I (and Stafford Beer himself) have always focused on the transparency that is brought by realtime sensor streams (albeit having its own bias of course) and the freedom entailed in power structures having to relate to blockchain type of incorruptible decision making instead of ego, raw power, chance, ideology, religion…

We do not need solutions in which an individual tries to go more cloaked and cloaked into a fully commercial world no longer protected by the democratic state (regulate and fine become weaker and weaker tools in societies in economic crisis for over thirty years and missing out on the financial rewards because of not owning g the drivers, but regulating the repercussions like in GDPR) and the social middle as that is gone and going. Instead all our tools should be deployed in a systematic approach with a governance that like ICANN grew alongside the internet, and now should actualize around Internet of Things, a true Next Generation Internet means decision making is taken to that level. Of course this sounds like the Borg, the Matrix, the Chinese social credit system. But we, you, are too smart to buy that.

We need an inclusive identity framework that is able to name, validate and build services on identities that will become a process between a device/controller of some kind (now smart phone), services (energy, mobility…) and the architecture 5G hardware for example).

That capability should be European.

It does four things:

It explodes identity as a single unit: in this ides (Zenroom running as VM on a chip on ‘device’ on billions of SIM cards - in washing machines, lamps, cars… and in 5G base stations and other infrastructure) turning identity into a process and allowing people to have thousands of temporary identities (just when they use a service)

It gradually fades out Facebook, Google…

It creates European services through EU unified protocols that could be locally permission less deployed, thus winning us the third battle (as we don’t care where the ‘original’ data resides)

It restores European dignity, a vital b belief in our agency to build meaningful and value creating infrastructures which is what (though)leaders like you should do.


@aydn this might be a good starting point as well :slight_smile:

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I would say that technologies that have low barrier to entry have a higher likelihood to lead to an outcome of increased justice.

If the barrier to entry is high, the productivity benefits will be leveraged more by the people who are able get over that barrier.

If you look at the question from a bird’s eyes view that seems to be the general outline. The two main barriers to entry from a general perspective seems to be either capital or knowledge.

So all else being equal a technology that doesn’t require specialized knowledge to be able to use, or require a big amount of capital to be able to leverage that technology you’ll be able to disperse the productivity benefits of that technology to a broader populace, and more people would be able to gain the benefits of it.

When it comes to the field of IT more specifically I think there will always be a certain barrier to entry because of the knowledge requirements to leverage ITs benefits. Yes, tools can be built that can be used by everyone, and in one way distributing the productivity benefits to more people. It will still be the people who have specialized knowledge which will in one way or another be gatekeepers.

Given that today’s economy is increasingly knowledge based, the one technology that could lead to increased justice would be teaching, or the transmitting of knowledge.


and I just came across this twitter thread:

about this: Fluxus Landscape, by Şerife Wong

Fluxus Landscape is an art and research project created in partnership with the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University with support from the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.

When I first started worrying about ethical problems in emerging technology, I would lament that no one else was paying attention. Until I met artist Sophia Brueckner, who taught me that the problem was more complicated than I had assumed. My concern deepened as I learned more about ethical problems in AI. Our policies could not possibly keep pace with technological advancements and would lead to greater inequality in society. I grew critical. Why were regulatory and other societal institutions not doing anything? Later, I met the CASBS director Margaret Levi, who informed me that many institutions were working on this – I just did not know them.

The following map is an attempt to document and clarify my learning through a compositional research process. The map is curatorial and qualitative – not indexed and quantitative. Unlike the data scraped by computers and sorted by rules, the data within the Fluxus Landscape were gathered one by one and categorized through deep conversations. Both methods are biased.

The map includes 500 nodes representing both allied groups and those who are in conflict with each other. As different as the communities represented in the map are, many still share the same question. What should we do? In this composition – like in all art – your experience is unique. Some may see a practical stakeholder map while others may see that they are not alone in their fears. Art and ethics share the same power: there are as many interpretations as there are minds. I hope this map will help you answer your questions. What will you do?


@hugi and @MariaEuler she might be interested in taking part of the conversations here. Perhaps we can reach out to her?

and I shouldn’t forget to tag the research team

@alberto @amelia: 32


I would love it if we could get Abeba Birhane and Cathy O`Neal to join us. Am already in touch with Abeba, she is super oversubscribed so I am pulling out the big guns, even trying a bribe consisting of almost home made Ethiopian food :))

Cathy, I have not yet contact - am struggling a bit with the neurowiring atm and finding it harder than usual to approach new people. Can anyone help?

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I can look into contacting her tomorrow, finding an interesting in. Let me research her a bit tonight.

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thank you <3

ping @sander this is the event I was referring to

@inge, Reach out to whom? The author of the article?

the artist/researcher of the AI piece? Sherry Wong


Rob, thanks! - @MariaEuler can I ask you follow up with Rob about setting this up?

hi @eirinimal would you be interested in joining us for this as a discussant along with Fabrizio Barca, people from the Oxford Internet institue + fair work foundation + others being announced soon?

@inge and @MariaEuler - @Amelia suggested we reach out to Kate Sim who is doing interesting work around tech in the context of gender-based violence at the Oxford Internet Institute. It would be great if we could schedule a video chat to learn more about her work and see if/how she might be interested in participating. I am very very interested in bringing in people working in sextech and femtech for a deeper conversation as part of this workshop or one video call in the run up to it or even a separate event. What do you think?

Also, I contacted Abeba Birhane who is doing brilliant work spanning data ethics, embodied cognition and bias (see this aeon article she wrote) . It would be very interesting to have a conversation between her and @amelia exploring how SSNA/ quantified social anthropology methods and tools can help surface and address biases that affect how/which technological choices we make - and where possible, mitigating their consequences. Is this something you might be interested in @amelia and if yes, how could we go about making it happen? We have a bunch of different options to choose from spanning video chats, conversation threads on the platform all the way to organising an event at the RSA where I currently have a fellowship.

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Ciao @rmdes so the festival site will be ready to go hopefully tomorrow, but if you view with web browser you can check it out already here

As you see above the content is now taking shape. @MariaEuler will have the visuals for promoting the event in what, 4 days?
So I guess it is time to set things in motion comms-wise with Digityser. We said I would do a presentation on October 10 to introduce the festival methodology - is this still on? and if yes, what materials do you need from me to promote it?


Someone who would also be very interesting to engage is Mounir Mahjoubi - @clairedvn do you have a way in to see if we can invite him to join us?

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