Civic Agency

November 7, 2020 by · Comments Off on Civic Agency 

Civic Agency is an initiative for engaging people at all levels of society with the social, cultural, economic and political issues at the heart our our increasingly automated and divisive world:

  • How are decisions made and justified that affect us in ways we are often unaware of?
  • Who designs these systems and what are the choices they make?
  • Why are they necessary? and,
  • In what ways can they become transparent as to purpose, intention and consequence?

We must find new strategies for everyone to be able to navigate the implications for our futures as we become ever more reliant on digital systems and technologies to run everyday life. As we spend more and more time interacting online and generating data about ourselves and our behaviours to be harvested by corporations and governments, so we need alternative spaces to challenge and speak truth to power and control.

Proboscis’ work for over two decades has focused on introducing creative tools and artistic methods into unusual places and situations – where they may help produce alternative ways for people to acquire agency for themselves and to feel empowered to share their voices, and their values. Since 2001 we have done this under over-arching research themes. From 2020 Civic Agency will be our theme, inter-weaving through our projects and activities and building upon all our previous work and ideas.

The theme originates in an idea that emerged from our participation in the UnBias research project on algorithmic bias (2016-18), for which we created a Fairness Toolkit aimed at helping young people and other non-technology-experts (i.e. ordinary folk) build their awareness and understanding of what bias in algorithms is and how it affects them and their communities. In 2019 Giles Lane outlined a vision for how we might build upon that concept and expand it into a national programme. In 2020, Proboscis was commissioned to develop a companion toolkit that would help organisations developing and deploying AI and algorithmic systems implement practical and pragmatic ethics assessments using a whole systems approach.

Over the next few years we plan to develop the partnerships and collaborations necessary to turn the vision of civic agency into a practical (and trans-national) programme that engages all kinds of people in all kinds of places with ways in which they can interrogate the systems of power that authorise the use of automated decision making in our societies. A programme that stimulates critical and civic thinking; that offers trajectories for resistance to authoritarianism and, that can be a platform for stimulating new forms of transparency and intervention.

Artists of all kinds often serve as society’s visionaries – thinking the unthinkable, exploring the impossible and making our own paths rather than following the established tracks. We are pioneers and explorers – seeking out new vistas and experiences and relaying them to others through the media of our creations. The discoveries we make and bring back become the tangible forms that others can be inspired by and act upon themselves. Creativity and artistic expression are powerful ways for people to take agency for themselves and to feel empowered to have and share their voices. We see this as a vital counter-balance to the increasingly pervasive systems of automated decision making in everyday life.

UnBias AI4DM Teaching and Learning video

October 17, 2020 by · Comments Off on UnBias AI4DM Teaching and Learning video 

A brief animation with some ideas for using the UnBias AI For Decision Makers in online and in-person classes. Watch our other animations here.

UnBias AI4DM Running a Workshop video

October 17, 2020 by · Comments Off on UnBias AI4DM Running a Workshop video 

A brief animation with suggestions for how to run a workshop using the UnBias AI For Decision Makers Toolkit. Watch our other animations here.

AI For Decision Makers

September 15, 2020 by · Comments Off on AI For Decision Makers 

Our practical ethics and governance toolkit for AI and automated systems is now available to download in a DIY print-at-home version, and we are running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for a production run to make the toolkit widely affordable.

Download the FREE AI For Decision Makers Toolkit (Zip 11Mb)
AI4DM Worksheet only (PDF 400Kb)
Read the Handbook Online

Order your set now from our online store

“Quite frankly this is the best bit of communication in this area I have ever seen. It is the perfect complement to the UnBias Fairness Toolkit. Together they can be adopted by any organisation in business, charity, education, healthcare etc etc.
Especially in the light of recent events I just wish that every member of the Government and the Civil Service had a set! 
I know how difficult it is to refine the language so that it really gets through. You have done a superb job.”

Lord Clement-Jones CBE
Chair of the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence (2017–2018)

AI4DM is a suite of critical thinking tools enabling cross-organisational stakeholders to implement transdisciplinary ethical and governance assessments of planned or existing AI and automated decision-making systems.
It naturally fosters participation, bringing people together to map AI systems, existing and proposed, against the organisation’s own mission, vision, values and ethics.
It uses a whole systems approach to analyse organisational structures and operations, illuminating to participants the breadth of issues beyond their individual responsibilities.

The tools are intuitive, practical and can be used for:

  • revealing where and how a system is either in alignment, and where it is (or could be) misaligned with the organisation’s mission, vision, values and ethics;
  • enabling different stakeholders to appreciate where and how their obligations and responsibilities intersect with those of others. 
  • emphasising the collective nature of lawful and ethical responsibilities across the whole organisation
  • providing a mechanism for a deep analysis of complex challenges.

The toolkit was conceived, created and designed by Giles Lane with illustrations by Alice Angus. It was commissioned by Ansgar Koene at EY Global Services.

Download the Flyer (PDF 80Kb)