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

Location: Brussels, t.b.c

Moderated by: Justin Nogarede, Foundation For European Progressive Studies.


Registration: Login to & post a thoughtful comment below.

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

Who is coming?

Fabrizio Barca - Former Director, Italian Ministry of Economy & Finance.
Nadia E.N - Cofounder, Edgeryders
Justin Nogarede - Digital Policy Adviser, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS)

To be confirmed

  • Mark Graham- Professor of Internet Geography at Oxford Internet Institute & Director, Fair Work Foundation
  • Rob Van Kranenburg - Founder, Internet Of Things Council
  • You!
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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

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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?

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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.

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@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.

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and I just came across this twitter thread:

about this:

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?

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@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

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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

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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?