Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms are increasingly being embedded into everyday technologies that influence many aspects of our lives. Such influence ranges from suggestions of films or even romantic partners, to customising of news access and personalised home insurance costs. These technologies raise important ethical concerns around society's ability to understand and scrutinise AI decisions, as well as the risks of algorithmic bias and misinformation. All of these are becoming increasingly important considerations for policymakers.

On 14 October 2019 we welcomed over 30 Civil Servants to a Policy Profession Masterclass on AI and ethics in Pall Mall, London. Policymakers from 18 government departments - including the Cabinet Office; Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Department for Education; and Department for Work and Pensions – were in attendance to learn from University of Bath academics.

Speakers Dr Joanna Bryson and Dr Özgür Şimşek from the Department of Computer Science, and Dr Iulia Cioroianu from the Institute for Policy Research (IPR), each presented on the increasing public and private use of AI, how changing technology impacts individuals and governments, and the ways in which AI decision making can be held accountable and regulated, to ensure that the economic advantages generated by AI benefit society as a whole.

The masterclass is part of a wider series we have organised with Policy Profession. The next session, ‘Finding growth within – how to transition from a linear to a circular economy’ will take place in December, featuring Dr Sophie Parsons and Professor Marcelle McManus from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Professor Matthew Davidson from the Department of Chemistry, University of Bath.