This summer, algorithmic bias has been brought to the UK’s attention in a dramatic fashion, as millions of students – some of whom will be future tech employees – were left devastated after their exam results were awarded by an algorithm. The model reinforced existing inequalities, favouring students from private, fee-paying schools in affluent areas and downgrading students from state schools.

It was a text-book example of how algorithmic decision-making can, without the correct processes in place, have a detrimental impact on people’s futures, and a business’s (or in this case government’s) reputation and standing.

The Anthropology + Technology Conference will be getting to the heart of these debates, specifically around the themes of the social and economic impact of AI-technology across Fintech, Health Tech and Smart Cities.

After a successful inaugural event at the Watershed in 2019, the Anthropology + Technology Conference returns on Friday 9th and Monday 12th October for a second year, this time online, with the opportunity to connect speakers and delegates from across the globe, and two major sponsors, Spotify and Microsoft UK.

The conference brings together social scientists, technologists and business leaders who are at the forefront of these conversations, promising some insightful and thought-provoking discussions on building, designing, and deploying AI responsibly.

Over 23 expert speakers from business, academia and the public sector will address topics such as AI in financial services, deep learning in disease detection, data privacy and cybersecurity, human-centred design in smart cities, ethical best practice in tech, humanising data and AI and much more.

“We’re excited to be the Gold Partner of Anthropology + Technology 2020,” says Amy Walker, Global Head of Insights Operations at Spotify. “Like A+T, we are invested in socially-responsible AI and we welcome the opportunity to support an organisation which is exploring the important and complex landscape of emerging technologies and how they affect the world we live in.”

And as Phil Harvey, Senior Cloud Solution Architect for Data & AI One Commercial Partner, Microsoft UK, who is speaking in the Smart Cities track, explains, “We need the perspective of anthropologists and sociologists to ensure those building the technology are doing so in a responsible way.

“As a programmer for over 15 years, I believe we need to have that wider conversation. We have a right to advance the art of technology in many different ways and use what we can to best advantage. But that comes with this responsibility; we have a responsibility to the people who will be affected by this technology.”

The 2020 keynote is Nani Jansen Reventlow, a human rights lawyer and Director of the Digital Freedom Fund. Reventlow will address dismantling the systems of racism and colonisation embedded in digital technologies and how societies can create a better future for everyone.

In the evening, delegates are invited to experience a pioneering use of AI in a live, interactive, special performance of I Am Echoborg. Co-designed by Bristolian Phil D. Hall, a conversational AI expert, the show is funny and thought-provoking as the audience joins in a conversation with an artificial intelligence to agree a best possible outcome for relations between humans and intelligent machines. The AI itself however has another agenda and learns from the audience, presenting multivariant endings depending on the conversation.

Dawn Walter, Founder of the conference explains: “The Anthropology + Technology conference brings together innovative thinkers in the social sciences, technology, business and the public sector to exchange ideas, create networks and examine together how AI can be designed and deployed responsibly without putting a brake on innovation. We want to create a better future where innovative digital technologies have a positive impact on people and society. Bristol is a brilliant home for the conference as it is full of tech innovation and people looking to innovate in a way which produces positive long-term results.”

Ticket prices range from £20 for students to £95 for corporate delegates and can be purchased from