Now that we live so much of our lives online, we generate digital data wherever we go and whatever we do. This data-rich environment has led to a new generation of data-driven digital technologies. In particular, data science and artificial intelligence (AI) offer exciting possibilities for innovation in public policy, government and public service provision, but also bring new challenges and moral dilemmas.
This talk will explore how these technologies can make for better government, identifying key tasks – such as detection, prediction and simulation – that data science and AI can help policy-makers to perform. It draws on Helen Margetts’ long history of researching the relationship between government and technology and her work at both the University of Oxford and The Alan Turing Institute. In 2018, she set up the Turing Public Policy Programme with the aim of helping government to maximise the public good potential of these data-driven technologies. The programme works alongside policy makers to explore how data-driven public service provision and policy innovation might solve long running ‘wicked’ policy problems and to develop the ethical foundations for the use of data science and AI in policy-making. The talk will include a discussion of exciting new work to explore how AI might help us to emerge from the current crisis caused by the coronavirus, and to build the resilience needed to face future shocks.
Helen Margetts OBE FBA is Professor of Society and the Internet and Professorial Fellow at Mansfield College at the University of Oxford, and Director of the Public Policy Programme at the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science and AI. From 2011 to 2018, she was Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, a multi-disciplinary department of the University of Oxford and before that Professor of Political Science and Director of the School of Public Policy at UCL. Her first degree is in Mathematics and she worked as a computer programme before returning to academia to do an MSc (1990) and PhD (1996) in Government at LSE. She has researched and written extensively about the relationship between technology, politics, public policy and government, including Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action, which won the Political Studies Association’s W.J.Mackenzie prize for best politics book in 2017. In 2018 she received the Friedrich Schiedel prize from the Technical University of Munich for research and research leadership in technology and politics. In 2019 she was awarded the OBE, made a Fellow of the British Academy and took up a visiting appointment as Senior Chair in Technology and Society at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.
John Hines Memorial Lecture