In this Royal Society paper, the authors argue that, while there is no shortage of sound ethical principles in robotics and AI, there is little evidence that those principles have yet translated into practice, i.e. effective and transparent ethical governance. Ethical practice starts with the individual, and emerging professional codes of ethical conduct. As a starting point for discussion they propose five pillars of good ethical governance.

Ethical governance is essential to building trust in robotics and artificial intelligence systems

Alan F. T. Winfield and Marina Jirotka
Published: 15 October 2018

– Publish an ethical code of conduct, so that everyone in the organization understands what is expected of them. This should sit alongside a ‘whistleblower’ mechanism which allows employees to be able to raise ethical concerns (or ‘responsible disclosure’), if necessary in confidence via an ombudsperson, without fear of displeasing a manager.
– Provide ethics and RI training for everyone, without exception. Ethics and responsible innovation, like quality, is not something that can be implemented as an add-on; simply appointing an ethics manager, for instance, while not a bad idea, is not enough.
– Practice responsible innovation, including the engagement of wider stakeholders within a framework of anticipatory governance (using for instance the AREA framework [19,23,26]). Within that framework, undertake ethical risk assessments of all new products, and act upon the findings of those assessments. A toolkit, or method, for ethical risk assessment of robots and robotic systems exists in British Standard BS 8611 [18], and new process standards, such as IEEE P7000 Model process for addressing ethical concerns during system design, are in draft.
– Be transparent about ethical governance. Of course, robots and AIs must be transparent too, but here we mean transparency of process, not product. It is not enough for an organization to claim to be ethical; it must also show how it is ethical. This could mean an organization publishing its ethical code of conduct, membership of its ethics board if it has one (and its terms of reference), and ideally case studies showing how it has conducted ethical risk assessments alongside wider processes of anticipatory governance—these might be part of an annual transparency report.
– Really value ethical governance. Even if an organization has the four processes above in place, it—and especially its senior managers—also needs to be sincere about ethical governance; that ethical governance is one of its core values and just not a smokescreen for what it really values (like maximizing shareholder returns).

To read the full article

© 2018 The Authors.

The Royal Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.


University College London (UCL) AI vision ‘AI for people and planet’ seeks to position AI (Artificial Intelligence) as a force for good in the world.

Members of the public are engaging increasingly with machine learning algorithms each day, often with little idea that a machine is responding on a chat bot, deciding a loan application or assessing the CV for a job application. With Fake News and machine-generated comments on social media shaping opinion, academia is finally beginning to respond after a slow start. 

University College London (UCL) have launched AI for People and Planet, a new lab with 100+ researchers to begin seeking solutions to tackle many concerns regarding use of AI by bad actors. 

AI is widely used in sectors ranging from health and education to science and art, with consumers regularly using machine learning without realising. Everyday tasks such as applying for bank loans and running online searches are governed by AI, which also serves tailored online adverts based on past activity.

The potential for AI technologies is vast, with upcoming challenges which will need addressing including how this can affect industries such as transport through autonomous vehicles, agriculture through automated farming and healthcare through personalised medicine. It also has the potential to change the way we work through supporting and enhancing productivity.

Concerns about the use of AI technology range from using it to create fake videos, known as deepfakes, to increased energy requirements as more complex machinery is developed. AI has a vital role to play in the solution, through monitoring the environment and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

AI for People and Planet press release


The Coded Gaze is the term used by technologist and poet, Joy Buolamwini to cleverly describe, in a fascinating 8-min TED talk, the bias that exists within many machine algorithms and risks this poses to society. (1min read) 

This post follows on from an earlier Haphazard blog article, Dismantling Discrimination within Ai-enabled machines.

Joy, aka Poet of Code*, has launched the Algorithmic Justice League for people who wish to challenge biases within machine code, which is built on the tenets;

  • Who Codes Matters
  • How We Code Matters
  • Why We Code Matters

*Joy Buolamwini is a poet of code who uses art and research to illuminate the social implications of artificial intelligence. She founded the Algorithmic Justice League to fight the coded gaze – harmful bias in artificial intelligence. At the MIT Media Lab, she pioneered techniques that are now leading to increased transparency in the use of facial analysis technology globally.

This post is linked to Dismantling Discrimination

John M

Image: Coded Gaze Facial Recognition | Centre on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law

Please feel free to comment below, negative or positive, and join the discussion.


Dismantling the engineered bias and discrimination embedded into Artificial Intelligence (Ai) algorithms, and avoiding making the same errors in the future, can only be achieved by diversifying the Ai workforce and make-up of the research community (3min read).

Machine technologies come with embedded discrimination, whether intended or not, because the majority of those who created the underpinning algorithms are male; and of those men, many are white, American or European educated.

Dismantling the bias already embedded within existing coding and engineering, particularly within legacy equipment, will be one of the biggest challenges over the coming generation. It is important to stress that although some Ai-enabled technologies have a life cycle of only a few months before the next iteration, the coding it is built upon can stretch back years, occasionally decades.

Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias stems from those biases that people internalise by just being in a society, group or family. Although individuals may try hard to challenge their own biases, in reality it is difficult. In tech, these biases feed through to coding, and can have devastating affect. The tech industry has been slow to deal with the issue of bias, and the education systems in USA, Europe and Asia have also failed to train for a more diverse workforce.

Bias concerns

“There have been a number of high-profile ‘embarrassments’ around bias that have made the public domain, including:

  • Sentencing algorithms piloted in US courts were statistically more inclined to discriminate against people of color,
  • Amazon’s experimental hiring tool to rank job candidates, which began to downgrade applicants who’d attended all women colleges or resumes with the word ‘women’s’ in them.

Such examples point to the potential of wide-scale damage if the question of bias is not tackled head on at this still early point in the AI revolution:

As AI systems are embedded in more social domains, they are playing a powerful role in the most intimate aspects of our lives: our health, our safety, our education, and our opportunities…“It’s essential that we are able to see and assess the ways that these systems treat some people differently than others, because they already influence the lives of millions.””

Tackling bias in an AI sector that’s already too ‘pale, male and stale’

Personal Experience

A personal experience of blatant bias was when being shown the back office of a major UK bank in the late 1990s. The hosts took great delight informing my colleagues and I of the algorithm that charges higher interest rates and make access to credit more difficult for people in the most deprived postcodes. The example they chose was SE15, Peckham, my postcode! The sniggering abruptly stopped on me mentioning where I lived; the bank did not win the business.

Innovation Hub

Raising awareness and encouraging events aimed specifically at issue of bias will be one of the aims of the Innovation Hub. It is worth noting that the EU classifies ‘consumers’ as ‘vulnerable users’, basically everyone will be impacted if this issue is not addressed.

This also requires adequate respect for potentially vulnerable persons and groups, such as workers, women, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, children, consumers or others at risk of exclusionEthics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI, (EU).

Further Reading

Tackling bias in an AI sector that’s already too ‘pale, male and stale’, Diginomics, Stuart Lauchlan, April 22, 2019

Tech Still Doesn’t Get Diversity. Here’s How To Fix It, WIRED, Michael Connor, 02.08.17 01:00pm

Gender Diversity in AI Research, NESTA, Wednesday, 17 July 2019, Konstantinos Stathoulopoulos, Juan Mateos-Garcia, Hannah Owen

Regulating Ethical Artificial Intelligence, Clayton Rice, Q.C. June 28, 2019

Ada Lovelace | Music by Numbers, Prof. David de Roure, January 2019, BBC Music Magazine

John M

Image: Breaking Away Berlin | John McKiernan

Related Articles: Ai Hub, Creating A Successful Hub and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson


With Ai embedded technologies pervading life in general, whether wanted or not, an objective of the Innovation Hub will be to raise awareness of what is already available and the opportunities these innovations offer to improve people’s lives (5min read).

Ai Has Arrived

Artificial Intelligence (Ai), Machine Learning (ML), Virtual Reality (VR), Blockchain, Robotics, Semantics, are part of a technological revolution already penetrating everyday life. Banking, medical assessments, treatments, mobile phones, browsing the web, are undergoing dramatic changes. Eventually, almost every aspect of daily life will be touched as these technologies, known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, become prevalent.

Different to the Web

Some people see the present technology transformation through the same lens as the arrival of the World Wide Web (www), yet this is not the case. Although the www did diffuse extraordinarily fast, less the 20 years from dial-up to Instagram, there is a distinct difference to this revolution.

The www required people to participate; buy a computer, connect to a broadband line, play an online game, and so on. This next phase of computing does not even need a person to own a mobile phone for it to impact them. A walk to the shop to buy milk will provide a flurry of data for machines to pick over; how long did it take to cross the road? Was semi-skimmed, full-fat or an alternative milk purchased? What size milk carton? How many steps were walked?

People do not have a choice whether to participate or not, and this is what makes the coming age different.

Resistance is Futile

Particularly for older people, some of these technologies will appear scary and unfathomable. To say that there are no risks to personal privacy or society in general from these innovations would be naive, yet attempting to slow or halt the process is pointless. As with www, there are enormous opportunities ahead for people of all ages to develop new skills, hobbies, careers and businesses.

This technology shift is not only about mathematicians and engineers raising huge amounts of money to launch taxi-riding apps; it is about the employment of these technologies by everyday people in everyday situations. Embedding the technologies into everyday life is where the real opportunities lie.

Short clip of me walking in Virtual Reality (VR) through a wall and across the Thames at the Immersive Virtual Environments Laboratory, University College London (UCL).

Parliamentary Evidence Gathering

Over the last two years, the UK Parliament has been gathering evidence on the impact these new technologies are likely to have on the country, and how to legislate if necessary. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Ai and Blockchain has been hearing from numerous experts across the fields of industry, law, government, charity and society. Full details of all of these evidence meetings can be found on the Big Innovation Centre website – the Secretariat for the APPGs.

“The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence (APPG AI) was set up in January 2017 with the aim to explore the impact and implications of Artificial Intelligence.

The APPG AI is co-chaired by Stephen Metcalfe MP and Lord Clement-Jones CBE.

Skills Rather Than Careers

As the World Economic Forum and others point out, skills will become more important than careers over the coming years and decades. In addition to traditional skills, soft skills like, listening, caring, negotiating will be needed. Coupled with new technology, people could find themselves taken on a new fulfilling employment pathway, unimaginable at this time.

LinkedIn have identified four soft skills, based on their 630million members, they believe will be increasingly required.

  1. Functional skills such as marketing and customer service
  2. Soft-power skills such as leadership
  3. Digital skills such as social media, and
  4. Value-added skills such as a foreign language. 

Skills, Not Job Titles, Are The New Metric For The Labour (2019)

Hub Demonstrators

The Innovation Hub will bring together numerous apps, videos and information in an artist exhibition format to introduce some of these new technologies to visitors. Unlike more formal exhibitions on the subject, which often feel corporate or school-like, the intention will be to create a homely experience, enticing people to engage in conversation. Ethics and deployment of the technologies will be at the forefront, with encouragement on how they can be applied to a person’s daily life and the opportunities they offer.


Header Image: APPGai Evidence Gathering, Palace of Westminster, May2019 | John McKiernan

Lu, Jian, (2019) Skills, not job titles, are the new metric for the labour market, World Economic Forum, online 12Jul19, {}

Please feel free to comment below, negative or positive, and join the discussion.


Haphazard Business is a self funded project. If you would like to contribute please click below. Thanks John M



The Fourth Industrial Revolution may offer a way back for men who are no longer rooted to a job, religion or partner and, in attempting to give-back to the community, sometimes find themselves spiralling into counter-productive tendencies, which American scientists have termed the ‘Haphazard Self’.

Many of the motivations and thought processes identified in America were also present during the Platform-7 Art Interventions over the last decade.

In line with these observations, part of the Innovation Hub remit will be to demonstrate how art and creative practices can assist men (and women) seeking to move beyond the rigid behavioural norms and strictures that the legacy of an outmoded industrial economy still imposes. By creating a Hub where people are able to express themselves freely will provide the right ambience to explore alternative models of self-reliance and lead to new businesses being created and individuals’ pursuing new career opportunities.

A short summary of the research The Tenuous Attachments of Working-Class Men (Edin, et al 2019) can be found below, plus excerpt from a New York Times article discussing the research, where referenced.

The Haphazard Self

[The Haphazard Self refers to] men whose vocational aspirations usually remain nebulous and tentative, rarely taking the form of an explicit strategy. In the meantime, career trajectories are often replaced by a string of random jobs. […]

These men’s desire for autonomy in jobs seems rooted in their rejection of the monotony and limited autonomy that their fathers and grandfathers experienced in the workplace. […]

Comparing Standards Of Living

The researchers conducted 107 in-depth interviews with working-class men. Many told them that the economy doesn’t allow them to provide the same standard of living that their fathers could provide. (NYT, 2019)

Fathers and grandfathers of today’s young working-class men provided a standard of living that many of their adult sons cannot match today. This is particularly true for the whites, who when they look back can remember fathers and grandfathers who were sustained by the booming industrial economy of post- World War II America. African-Americans, however, did not get a fair share of the blue-collar prosperity of the post-World War II period. As a result, they may look back to a time when discrimination deprived their parents of such opportunities. Many Hispanics may look back to the lower standard of living their parents experienced in their countries of origin. Thus, whites are more likely to compare themselves to a reference group that makes them feel worse off, while blacks and Hispanics compare themselves to reference groups that may make them feel better off. […]

Need For Creativity And Self Expression

Most of the interviewees spoke of a need for ‘creativity and self-expression’ and pivoting this to create a business.

This is reflected in the entrepreneurial nature of many of the side bets, [or side jobs] ranging from petty drug dealing to cash-in-hand plumbing, and the emphasis on the creative and performing arts. […]

Generative Selves: Give Back

As the stories illustrate, a desire for generative work—jobs that allow men to “give back” to their communities—is most often voiced when they are asked about the jobs to which they aspire. […]

Rather, they are attempting to renegotiate their relationships to these institutions [partner/wife, job/career, religion/church] by attempting to construct autonomous, generative selves. For example, these men’s desire for autonomy in jobs seems rooted in their rejection of the monotony and limited autonomy that their fathers and grandfathers experienced in the workplace, along with a new ethos of self-expression (Cherlin 2014). […]

Our interviews strongly suggest that the autonomous, generative self that many men described is also a haphazard self. […]

Yet our analysis of men’s life narratives suggests that many are also focused on rescuing themselves or those they see as younger versions of themselves. […]

Cultural Forces

Cultural forces have also played a role, namely the emphasis on autonomy — being your own person, focusing on your own personal growth, shucking off any constraints. This ethos, at least in the cities where the interviews happened, has replaced the older working-class ethos, based on self-discipline, the dignity of manual labor and being a good provider, they conclude. […]

In short, at the very moment information-age capitalism detaches many working-class men from stable careers, the autonomy ethos teaches that it’s right to be semidetached, that the best life is one lived in perpetual flux, with your options perpetually open. (NYT, 2019)

Changing Father Relationship

One might question whether the emphasis on nurture and warmth has supplanted men’s sense of duty to provide financially. […] Though men did not explicitly say so, the fact that they placed more emphasis on their emotional than their financial role may have weakened their motivation to work. […]

The form of fatherhood these men wish to enact is not modelled on what they observed among their own fathers and grandfathers, who—in their view—were inadequate. Rather, this generation places strong emphasis on nurture and warmth (see also Edin and Nelson 2013). Many derided their own fathers if they “merely” provided financially for the family but didn’t provide emotional support. […]

For their fathers and grandfathers, work, family, and religion created the attachments, investments, involvements, and beliefs (Hirschi 1969) that guided and gave meaning to human activity in specific social domains. In addition, this pattern was broadly shared within the community and successfully reproduced over time (Friedland and Alford 1991). These institutions not only organized social activity into common patterns of behaviour, but supplied norms, beliefs, and rituals that legitimated such patterns. If traditional social roles in these domains are now only tenuously embraced, a few may craft lives that are more rewarding than those of prior generations, but the majority will struggle. […]

Yet through their attempts to renegotiate work, family, and religious roles, working-class men, whose fathers’ and grandfathers’ lives were often marked by limited autonomy in the workplace, gender-segregated roles within their family, and religious structures that dictated a set of rigid behavioural norms—these men are showing signs of moving beyond such strictures. Many will likely falter. Yet they are laying claim to a measure of autonomy and generativity in these spheres that were less often available in prior generations. […]


This brings us back to the question of why labour force detachment is becoming more common among men with a high school diploma but no four-year college degree, especially when the official unemployment rate is so low. It is tempting to look for a single explanation for this increase. Although only a starting point, our findings suggest that these changes may be driven by the fact that the workplace, the family, and religion have all been transformed, along with men’s sense of what constitutes fulfilment in all these domains. In addition, the salience of manual labour in identity formation seems to have weakened, compared to prior generations. If significant changes in any one of those arenas can be life-altering, the combined effect of all these changes will be quite unpredictable and will vary with the temperamental differences of the men who confront them. […]

Though our analysis should sound an alarm for the near term, we believe it is too soon to predict how these changes will play out over time as society adjusts to them.

Image: Damon Winter | The New York Times (13 May 2019)

Linked Posts: Innovation Hub, Standardising Life, Art Interventions and Abundant Choice

Edin, Kathryn, Timothy Nelson, Andrew Cherlin, and Robert Francis. 2019. “The Tenuous Attachments of Working-Class Men.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 33 (2): 211-28. Online 19 April 2019 {}

Brook, David. 13 May 2019, “The Rise of the Haphazard Self: How working-class men detach from work, family and church”, New York Times, Opinion. Online 29 May 2019 {}


Stour Space is one of the first Asset of Community Value buildings in the UK and the last remaining Art and Community space in Fish Island (Hackney Wick), the recent recipient of the Mayor of London’s Creative Enterprise Zone.

With regeneration in East London almost fever pitch, Stour Space, along with other such spaces, has become a target for development, mainly due to the large area generally occupied and increasing desire for loft living.

Hubs As Strategic Spaces

How an innovation hub fits within a local community and the overall strategy of a local authority is a key strand of investigation for Haphazard Business. Understanding the complex nature of decisions and interests is essential in deciding where to create a new Innovation Hub and the likelihood of success.

Not-for-profit businesses like Stour Space are not like other commercially tenanted buildings. Hubs (or Space as referred here) offer a variety of uses for creative outputs, in this case, instrument making, crafts studios, bar, exhibitions, workshops, as well being as a community hub.

Hub Survival

As Gillian Harwood, owner of Busworks in north London since 1970s eloquently discusses on her blog post here, threat of development and other pressures are not a new phenomena. How they are negotiated and coped with by individuals and interested parties is paramount to survival (or not) of such spaces as well as the importance of being able to adapt.

New Academic Centre Investigating Hubs

Queen Mary, University of London, has recently created Centre for the Creative and Cultural Economy, known as ‘Network’ to investigate and document the changing landscape of hubs and their importance to the vibrancy and creativity of society. Details of the recent The Creative Work And The City Symposium can be found here.

This project and the centre will keep close contact throughout this Haphazard journey.


Taking place at the under threat Stour Space, The Creative Work And The City symposium discussed some of the issues facing creative hubs in London and Southeast Asia.

The symposium was presented by Centre for the Creative and Cultural Economy at Queen Mary, University of London, which is investigating the role of hubs and importance to the creative industries and culture.

The symposium included three panels:

Symposium Panels

  1. Discussion on the Mayor of London’s new Creative Enterprise Zone initiative
  2. A comparison between hubs in east London and ones dotted around Southeast Asia
  3. How planning law and its effect impact creative hubs in the UK and elsewhere.

Haphazard Discussions

Haphazard Business will draw upon the knowledge being accumulated at events like this symposium and will develop it own event series later in the project.

Symposium Introduction

Creative hubs and clusters are essential sites of cultural and creative production and consumption. These now global sites very much represent the urban regional growth promise of the creative and culture sector. In East London there are multiple manifestations of this activity – much of it under threat. This said new initiatives like the Mayor of London’s Creative Enterprise Zone have the potential to ameliorate some of the pressure already inherent in the creative and cultural sector but made even more so by certain market forces. Globally many cities face similar problems – how to best support creative and cultural production as a mechanism of regional growth and renewal.

Read more…