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IEEE SA at the Tallinn Digital Summit: Bringing Practical Solutions to the Table

By Karen McCabe, IEEE SA Senior Director, Public Affairs and Marketing

Starting in 2017 the government of Estonia has held the annual Tallinn Digital Summit (TDS), where global leaders from governments to technical communities gather to address challenges we face in today’s digital life. IEEE SA was honored to be invited to TDS 2019 as a knowledge partner in recognition of its work in the ethical design of autonomous and intelligent systems (A/IS), digital inclusion, data governance and related areas.

At TDS political leaders, policy innovators, though leaders, entrepreneurs and the tech community bring to the forefront for open, candid discussion topical matters of digital transformation and its impact on economies, societies and governments. More so, it is dedicated to the sharing of ideas and lessons learned to inform practical approaches to real world problems brought by digital technologies.

The third annual Tallinn Digital Summit, with a special focus on AI for public value, brought together more than 200 experts from 23 countries, including top leaders from the government level as well as private sector and scientists. The Summit hosted 12 sessions with more than 40 expert speakers discussing how to utilize AI in governments and democracy, smart cities, law enforcement and healthcare touching also the complex legal and ethical aspects.

Our delegation lead was Steve Welby, IEEE Executive Director, who gave a compelling and well-received keynote speech on How to Foster Public Trust in Intelligent Technologies and Systems. We also curated three sessions at TDS inspired and informed by the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, specifically Ethically Aligned Design (EAD): A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with A/IS.

  • AI and the Law Roundtable addressed how the law responds to the technological innovation represented by A/IS, but it also guides and sets conditions for that innovation in the context of the inter-dependent fields of activity of science, technology development, public policy and ethics.
  • AI in Healthcare Roundtable focused on the question of how can we ensure that medical data leads to good patient outcomes while protecting patient privacy, especially with the use of breakthrough technologies such as Blockchain, Virtual and Augmented Reality and AI in clinical trials and to aid in diagnosis and treatment.
  • AI in Democracy Roundtable focused on why and how to have critical dialogues with technology developers and implementers with policy makers to help ensure technology is used to enable benefit to humanity and not as tools for control or coercion.

The enlightened conversations at TDS have implications on policy, technology and business stakeholders alike as the practical information shared on how governments and industry are addressing challenges can be brought into strategic discussions. We brought to the conversations our practical outputs from the work under our umbrella, including the growing family of standards projects addressing ethical considerations in A/IS and data governance; the Certification Program for Ethics in A/IS; the AI and Ethics in Design course; and the up and coming Ethically Aligned Design for Series that will provide pragmatic guidance on implementing Ethically Aligned Design, First Edition, in specific sectors such as business, health, the arts and advertising.

All the sessions from TDS are publicly available. I encourage you to take some time to watch them, and I also invite you to get involved in IEEE’s important work at the intersection of technology, standards and ethics.

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Karen McCabe

Senior Director, Public Affairs & Marketing, IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA) - Karen McCabe is a Senior Director of Public Affairs & Marketing at IEEE where she drives efforts to build and connect communities working at the intersection of technology, standards, and policy. Karen has held various leadership and senior management positions in the technology sector, with a specific focus in the global standards and technology domain. Karen is engaged in efforts in climate change, digital inclusion, identity management, data governance, ethics and technology, and global standards in trade and policy. Karen is a member of the OECD Internet Technical Advisory Committee and works with an array of organizations and bodies to connect technologists, industry leaders and policymakers where she develops partnerships and builds alliances across stakeholder communities.

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