AI and Society: Creating a Fair and Ethical Future

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CTRL Collective

45 South Arroyo Parkway

Pasadena, CA 91105

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As Artificial Intelligence (AI) begins to percolate into our everyday lives, we must take a step back to think about the effects of such technologies on our lives.

How does AI embody our value system?

Whose interests are advanced by an AI system?

Do AI systems learn humanly intuitive correlations? If not, can we contest the system?

We aim to explore these pressing normative questions to deep dive into AI + Society. Specifically, we will discuss the questions AI raises regarding bias, ethics, and privacy, and we will explore what a fair, accountable, and transparent AI system looks like.

Join us to hear from academic experts, industry leaders, and many others with experience fusing AI into society.


6:00-6:30pm : Arrivals/Networking

6:30-6:35pm : Opening Remarks

6:35-6:50pm : Case Study: Homeless Youth

6:50-7:35pm : Fairness, Accountability, Transparency Panel + Q/A

7:35-7:55pm : Intermission

7:55-8:10pm : Case Study: Ethical Preferences

8:10-8:55pm : Bias, Ethics, Morality, Safety Panel + Q/A

8:55-9:00pm : Closing Remarks

9:00-10:00pm : Reception - True Foods Kitchen + Pali Wines

Lightning Talk: Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in AI for Allocating Housing to the Homeless

Recently, automated data-driven decision-making systems have enjoyed a tremendous success. These algorithms are increasingly being used to assist socially sensitive decision-making. Yet, these automated tools may result in discriminative decision-making, treating individuals unfairly or unequally based on membership to a category or a minority.

Motivated by the problem of allocating housing to the homeless and using detailed historical data, we show that standard ML techniques result in discriminative policies and propose resource allocation algorithms that are more closely aligned with the vision of policy-makers, ensuring fairness, accountability, and transparency while maximizing efficiency of resource utilization.

Lightening Talk: Ethical Preferences with Autonomous Agents

The future will see autonomous agents acting in the same environment as humans, over extended periods of time, in areas as diverse as driving, assistive technology, and health care. In this scenario, such agents should follow moral values and ethical principles (appropriate to where they will act), as well as safety constraints. How can safety constraints, moral values, and ethical principles be embedded in artificial agents? We discuss an example of how CP-nets, an AI framework for reasoning about preferences, can be used as a computational model of ethical preferences.


Phebe Vayanos is Assistant Professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Southern California and Associate Director of the Center for AI in Society at USC. Her research aims to address fundamental questions arising in AI and is motivated by decision-making problems that are important for social good. Prior to joining USC, she was a lecturer in at MIT Sloan School of Management, and a postdoctoral researcher in the Operations Research Center at MIT. She holds a PhD degree in Operations Research and an MEng degree in Electrical & Electronic Engineering, both from Imperial College London.

K. Brent Venable is a professor of Computer Science at Tulane University and Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). Her research is dedicated to providing a solid framework for the design and deployment of intelligent systems able to reason about preferences. Preference models are needed in decision-support systems such as web-based recommender systems, in automated problem solvers such as configurators, and in autonomous systems such as Mars rovers. Venable’s research investigates preferences both from a single- and a multi-agent prospective. Venable received her doctorate in Computer Science and also the Laurea Magna cum Laude in Mathematics from University of Padova. She has co-authored two books and over one hundred peer reviewed scientific publications.

Michael Howells is a British diplomat and Consul General in Los Angeles. He is the senior representative of the UK government in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Hawaii. In this role, he promotes trade and investment, scientific cooperation, creative and media collaborations and educational partnerships between the UK and the southwestern United States. Michael has an academic background in Anthropology and International Law. Prior to government service, Michael worked as a human rights lawyer and in the UK tech sector, supporting clients in the British entertainment industry. Michael began his government career as a policy adviser in the UK Department for International Development. For the past 11 years he has held a series of national security roles in the British Foreign Office, covering Counter-Terrorism, EU Security and Defence policy and the Middle East.

Jeff Keltner is head of Business Development at Upstart. He joined Upstart after spending 6 years at Google. He launched and built the Google Apps for Education business, growing market share from zero to almost 70% in its first four years. Jeff spearheaded marketing efforts for Google Apps in Global 2000 accounts and led sales, business development, and go-to-market strategy for the launch of Chrome devices in the education and enterprise sectors. He spent several years in direct sales at IBM, always exceeding quota, and was a founding engineer and lead UI developer at SSB Technologies. Jeff holds a BS in Computer Systems Engineering from Stanford University.

Cansu Canca - is the founder and director of the AI Ethics Lab, where she leads teams of computer scientists and legal scholars to provide ethics analysis and guidance to researchers and practitioners. She has a Ph.D. in philosophy specializing in applied ethics. She works on ethics of technology and population-level bioethics with an interest in policy questions. Prior to the AI Ethics Lab, she was a lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, and a researcher at the Harvard Law School, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, Osaka University, and the World Health Organization. She tweets @ccansu.

Wen Dombrowski MD, MBA is a physician and technology executive that has been actively engaged in Science and Technology Ethics and Policy for two decades. In addition to being an ethics consultant for AI Startups, Dr. Dombrowski has served on Ethics Committees at the state, hospital, and community level. She frequently speaks at national and international conferences about the AI and Data issues including ethics, bias, and unintended consequences, etc. Dr. Dombrowski's company CATALAIZE works with large healthcare organizations, investors, startups and established tech companies to create new solutions that leverages AI, AR, and other emerging technologies. This leverages her in-depth healthcare and IT industry experience including previously serving as CIO/CMIO(Chief Medical Information Officer) for state-wide homecare and community health provider, the Technology & Communications Strategy lead for a large integrated delivery network's Value-Based Care initiatives, Clinical Informatics Director at a multi-specialty network of community clinics, and Medical Director at a special needs managed care plan for Medicaid-Medicare dual-eligible seniors.

Dr. Peter Fennell is a Data Scientist at Tala where he uses A.I. to build credit and fraud models for Tala’s global markets. Peter received his PhD in applied mathematics and network science at the University of Limerick, Ireland, and previous to Tala was a James S. McDonnell postdoctoral fellow at USC’s Information Science Institute where he researched diffusion on networks and explainable machine learning. Peter is an occasional Data Science lecturer for Pepperdine University and Data Application Lab, and is a keen follower of data science meetups and events in the greater Los Angeles area.


Todd Terrazas - AI LA Founder & President


Umang Bhatt is a graduate student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Under his advisor José Moura, Umang focuses his research on building human-machine trust via model interpretability. He has also explored affect analysis in human-robot interaction, conversational agents in technical support while at Microsoft, and scalable pothole detection via his startup, Percepsense.

AI LA is partnered with Innovate Pasadena during Connect Week to provide an open and inclusive platform to discuss AI and it's impact on humanity.

AI LA Community, Inc. is a California Non-profit.

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CTRL Collective

45 South Arroyo Parkway

Pasadena, CA 91105

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Refund Policy

No Refunds

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