ADAPT Radio: AI in Action, Prof. Dave Lewis on Trustworthy AI and Ethical Data Governance

25 April 2022

ADAPT Radio continues this month with an eye-opening discussion with ADAPT’s Prof. Dave Lewis on his research interests in trustworthy AI and ethical Data Governance. Prof. Lewis is an Associate Professor at the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin and the head of its Artificial Intelligence Discipline. He also holds the position of Deputy Director of the ADAPT SFI Research Centre for Digital Content Technology. Throughout his career, Prof. Lewis has led the development of international standards governing AI at the highest levels and his research is still shaping the future of Data Governance. In this episode, Prof. Lewis discusses the challenges faced by society in governing AI, how his research is being used by industry to raise standards and how the use of algorithms can be balanced to meet the needs of users and organisations as well as society.

Prof. Lewis kicks off the podcast with a discussion on the challenges of utilising AI at a societal level and the importance of developing it in a responsible manner. Technology has now reached a state where it can collect and leverage our data very effectively. This results in decisions or insights about us that we may not necessarily be equipped to deal with at a societal level due to legislation that is slow to update. These harms could be easy to identify, such as an automated vehicle malfunctioning, or be harder to identify, such as being denied access to medical or financial services. However, in Europe, legislation is advancing particularly with the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and, as Europe is such a large trading block, this encourages other countries to adopt similar standards. Prof. Lewis also states that further regulation is planned which will address issues around Data Governance such as how organisations can improve the flow of data without exploiting it. Prof. Lewis gives the example of a hospital looking to improve the sharing of data between medical studies and those researching medical devices as well as the difficulties involved relating to GDPR. His research looks at how different forms of regulation layer on top of each other and what can be done to minimise these complexities in a way that is easy to implement.

Prof. Lewis also highlights a new act currently being discussed in the European Parliament called the “AI Act” which is an attempt to harmonise AI as a form of product that can be certified ensuring that certain evaluations have taken place that confirm the product is safe for use. The AI Act will be useful for classes of applications that are regarded as high-risk by the European Commission. His research contributes to the work that is currently being done by the National Standards Authority of Ireland, which is the body that represents Ireland in international standards that are developing standards that will enable companies to better deal with issues such as the trustworthiness of AI. Much of the current legislation does not do a great job in explaining itself making it difficult to implement, Prof. Lewis’ research aims to ensure that the standards are capable of explaining to companies how to perform the necessary tests required of them. For example, home speakers, e.g. an Alexa or Google box, will have a mark on them that indicates it is safe for use and is not being used in a way that compromises your fundamental rights.

Areas that Prof. Lewis’ ADAPT research has also delved into includes provenance, which is the record of where the data has come from and what type of processing has been done to it. This also includes ensuring that consent is recorded and potentially allowing a user to track their consent. Ultimately, the aim is for solutions that work for Europe but, as AI is a globalised market, solutions can be utilised for the global market as well. The full podcast with Prof. Lewis is available here.

ADAPT Radio: AI in Action is ADAPT’s newest podcast series highlighting pioneering ADAPT AI research that is empowering individuals, businesses and society to get the most from AI-Driven Digital Media Technology. ADAPT Radio is available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.