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It's the fly on the wall of our colleges, as our academics debate key issues shaping the future of society. Season one is all about artificial intelligence...

We live in ever-changing times, so information we can trust is more important than ever before, and it’s not always where our academics agree that’s most revealing, but where they disagree. Futuremakers is the fly on the wall to that debate.

You may already have read a hundred articles about artificial intelligence and the future of society, but these longer conversations – featuring four of our academics at the cutting edge of research and at the forefront of their profession – explore each topic in detail, from the automation of jobs to the inherent bias of algorithms.

You’ll find Futuremakers on: 

Episode one: How will the automation of jobs likely progress?

In 2013 two Oxford academics published a paper titled 'The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?' estimating that 47% of US jobs were at risk of automation. Since then, numerous studies have emerged, arriving at very different conclusions. So where do these estimates diverge, and where do we think the automation of jobs might be heading? Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with one of the authors of that paper, Professor Mike Osborne, as well as Dr Judy Stephenson, an expert on labour markets in pre-industrial England, and Professor David Clifton from our Department of Engineering Science. 

Episode two: Are all algorithms biased? 

Our lives are increasingly shaped by automated decision-making algorithms, but do those have in-built biases? If so, do we need to tackle these, and what could happen if we don’t? Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with Dr Sandra Wachter, a lawyer and research fellow in areas including data ethics, AI, robotics and internet regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute; Dr Helena Webb, a senior researcher in the Department of Computer Science; and Dr Brent Mittelstadt, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute focusing on auditing, interpretability, and the ethical governance of complex algorithmic systems.

Episode three: Is the banking sector about to change for ever?

AI is already playing a role in the finance sector, from fraud detection, to algorithmic trading, to customer service, and many within the industry believe this role will develop rapidly within the next few years. So what does this mean for both the people that work in this sector, and for the role banking and finance plays in society? Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with Professor Stephen Roberts, Royal Academy of Engineering and Man Group Professor of Machine Learning, Professor Nir Vulkan, a leading authority on e-commerce and market design, and on applied research and teaching on hedge funds, and Jannes Klaas, author of 'Machine Learning for Finance: Data algorithms for the markets and deep learning from the ground up for financial experts and economics'.

Episode four: Is AI good for our health?

With AI algorithms now able to mine enormous databases and assimilate information far quicker than humans can, we’re able to spot subtle effects in health data that could otherwise have been easily overlooked. So how are these tools being developed and used? What does this mean for medical professionals and patients? And how do we decide whether these algorithms are making things better or worse? Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with Alison Noble, Technikos Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Engineering Science, Paul Leeson, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Oxford, and a Consultant Cardiologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, and Jessica Morley, a Technology Advisor to the Department of Health, leading on policy relating to the Prime Minister's Artificial Intelligence Mission.

Episode five: Does AI have a gender?

As chatbots and virtual assistants become an ever-present part of our world, and algorithms increasingly support decision-making, people working in this field are asking questions about the bias and balance of power in AI. With the make-up of teams designing technology still far from diverse, is this being reflected in how we humanise technology? Who are the people behind the design of algorithms and are they re-enforcing society’s prejudices through the systems they create? Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with Gina Neff, Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor at the Oxford Internet Institute, Carissa Véliz, a Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, and Siân Brooke, a DPhil student at the Oxford Internet Institute focussed on construction of gendered identity on the pseudonymous web. 

Episode six: From Ada Lovelace to Alan Turing – the birth of AI?

Many developments in science are achieved through people being able to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ and in the history of AI two giants in particular stand out. Ada Lovelace, who inspired visions of computer creativity, and Alan Turing, who conceived machines which could do anything a human could do. So where do their stories, along with those of calculating engines, punched card machines and cybernetics fit into to where artificial intelligence is today? Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with Ursula Martin, Professor at the University of Edinburgh and a member of Oxford's Mathematical Institute, Andrew Hodges, Emeritus Fellow at Wadham, who tutors for a wide range of courses in pure and applied mathematics, and Jacob Ward, a historian of science, technology, and modern Britain and a Postdoctoral Researcher in the History of Computing.

Listen to the trailer for season one

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