Spotlight Panels

All times shown are GMT+1/UTC+1 (British Summer Time)

Panel 1: The Coded Gaze: algorithmic bias, facial recognition and beyond – How research can change the law and influence people

Tuesday 22 June, 17:30 – 18:30

Chair: Lucy Hooberman
Panellists: Ricardo Baeza-YatesRumman ChowdhuryMargaret Mitchell

In 2016, an MIT Graduate student gave a TEDx Talk in New York. Joy Buolamwini’s TEdX Talk of 2016, has been viewed by nearly 1.5 million people, and it later led to a journey of deeper discovery with other researchers and filmmaker Shalini Kantayya. Their resulting film, Coded Bias, was launched at the Sundance Festival in 2020 and later released on Netflix in April 2021. The film reveals in an accessible way how facial recognition software and automated decision-making has unprecedented power to reproduce bias at scale. As companies and governments increasingly outsource their services to entities which employ more machines and more machine learning , we can now see that algorithms are being used to decide what information we see, who gets hired, who gets health care, and who gets undue police scrutiny. Human rights lawyers and ethicists can see that this affects vulnerable communities the hardest.

Our distinguished panellists will bring Joy’s insights right up to date and will chart how fast the field is moving whilst also digging deep into the origins of this field. What steps can and should be taken by companies, individual people and researchers to change the way in which ordinary human bias and ignorance is encoded into our digitally driven world? How will we help enable machines not to make the same mistakes as we have historically made? Do we understand the concept of ethics in private and public companies well enough, let alone AI ethics? Do private companies have the same responsibilities as public and government institutions when it comes to transparency and accountability? Environmental, Social and Governance (ESGs) are all the rage but are they becoming a branch of marketing?

All conference delegates will receive a link to watch Coded Bias generously supplied by the film’s distributor, Women Make Movies, from June 18th to June 25th inclusively.

There will be a BBC World Service Digital Planet programme going out featuring our panel at 20.30 BST on the BBC World Service.

Suggested background reading and viewing:

Margaret Mitchell

50 Years of Test (Un)Fairness:  Lessons for Machine Learning Talks about the history of mathematical fairness definitions.

Closing the AI Accountability Gap: Defining an End-to-End Framework for Internal Algorithmic Auditing

Ricardo Baeza-Yates

Towards Intellectual Freedom in an AI Ethics Global Community April 2021

Bias on the Web

Ethics in AI?  A Challenging Task ECIR Keynote

Rumman Chowdhury

Introducing our Responsible Machine Learning Initiative

Sharing Learnings About our Image Cropping Algorithim

Some Coded Bias Q & A sessions with Joy Buolamwini, Shalini Kantayya and other interviewees

Panel 2: COVID-19 and Society

Wednesday 23 June, 18:30 – 19:30

Chair: Katrin Weller
Panellists: Dirk Brockmann, Eszter Hargittai, Ian Milligan, Katherine Ognyanova

As the pandemic keeps influencing our everyday lives, researchers assemble valuable datasets that can help to better understand the impact COVID-19 has on society. This includes both data from the Web or other digital platforms, as well as data about Web usage and information flows. And while the current focus is naturally on understanding the immediate effects of the pandemic to improve the situation as it unfolds, we also encourage thinking about its impact on the future and asking how to remember and pass on the lessons learned. The panel features experts from different research fields to contribute their unique data and perspectives. Together we are aiming to address topics such as mobility and (dis)information, and to shed light on different national perspectives on COVID-19 responses.

Panel 3: The Future of the Web in a Post-COVID World

Thursday 24 June, 08:00 – 09:00

This panel will be in English and Chinese. 

Chairs: Wendy Hall and Jie Tang
Panellists: Tat-Seng Chua, James Hendler, Xia Yin

The COVID-19 pandemic has been met by unequal responses in different countries and led to unequal impacts to Europe, USA, Asia, and Latin America. The pandemic has made unequal internet access both within and between countries. At the same time, new opportunities also emerge and the Web changes dramatically. The purpose of this panel is to discuss the future of the Web in a post-COVID world.

  • What is the current situation of the Web compared to the situation before 2020?
  • What has shifted in the web area and have we reached the “new normal?”
  • What data security implications on the Web should we be concerned about?
  • Panel 4: AI, Media and the Future of News on the Web

    Thursday 24 June, 14:30 – 15:30

    Chair: Matthew Weber
    Panellists: Rory Cellan-JonesAndrea GuzmanCameron HickeyAmanda Stent

    This panel will tackle the ambitious challenge of examining the intersection of emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technology and the production of news media in an online environment. The assembled panellists represent a diverse range of perspectives, from industry to academia, and an array of professional backgrounds. The speakers on this panel will address critical questions about how tools for automation and AI impact the production of news media, how an increasing reliance on technology has affected the battle against misinformation, and how COVID-19 and shifts to alternative work arrangements has impacted news media production in this context. Panellists will also examine the specific technologies that are changing the production of news today, delving into the technical challenges facing modern newsrooms.

    Panel 5: Directions in Digital Government

    Thursday 24 June, 17:30 – 18:30

    Chair: Clare Hooper
    Panellists: Honey Dacanay, Cyd Harrell, Gordon Ross, Nigel Shadbolt

    Worldwide, there are vast disparities in the ways in which digital government is enacted. The ‘splinternet’, or Balkanisation of the internet, heralds deep shifts in how people in different regions can engage digitally (see: O’Hara and Hall, The Four Internets). At the same time, approaches may vary quite drastically even within smaller regions, i.e. Estonia’s digital-first approach as compared with other European countries. This panel brings together practitioners from industry and government to share their expertise and experiences with digital transformation. Topics will include best and worst practices, what exactly the web enables for government, and, of course, the impact of Covid. We encourage audience participation in this panel, which promises to highlight opportunities as well as challenges as digital government continues to evolve.

    Panel 6: Does Decentralisation Help the Disenfranchised?

    Friday 25 June, 09:00 – 10:00

    Chair: Jennifer Zhu Scott
    Panellists: Maltem DemirorsGlenn GoreSanjay Jain, JP Rangaswami

    Since the Genesis Block of Bitcoin occurred in Jan 2009, the world has been marching to an exciting, sometimes crazy journey to decentralization. Despite the ideals and promises of the blockchain technology, the world has witnessed much drama of many self-serving projects profiteering off often desperate people in the name of decentralization. This panel asks hard questions to those who have been devoting their career to a more decentralized world – are we truly serving the disfranchised people and fulfilling the promise of decentralization technology? We will learn about the real life-changing examples around the world. 

    Panel 7: The Future of the Web and Society

    Friday 25 June, 15:30 – 16:30

    Chair: Wendy Hall
    Panellists: Sinan Aral, Azeem AzharNoshir Contractor, Jaime Teevan

    Web Science, as an interdiscipline, is celebrating its 15th year of interrogating how the Web has shaped Society and how Society, in turn, has shaped the Web. During this period, we have witnessed avalanches of disruptive “exponential” technologies emerge from tectonic shifts between four (or more!) Internets with their various sensibilities and sensitivities concerning openness, commerce, authoritarianism and human rights. The closing panel reflects on how all of these socio-cultural-political developments (re)shape the agenda for Web Science over the next 15 years and beyond. Specifically, panelists will consider the future of Web Science research and what it means for practitioners, policy makers and publics.