ICO appoints in-house expert to investigate AI effect on data privacy

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has appointed Dr Reuben Binns as its first Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Artificial Intelligence (AI), with his role to research into and implement an official framework for auditing algorithms.

Dr Binns’ role will also involve further research and development into the use of AI and machine learning to help the ICO understand how it can be used by organisations and the ICO itself.

“We are delighted that Reuben is joining us,” Simon McDougall, the ICO’s Executive Director – Technology, Policy and Innovation said. “Artificial intelligence is an exciting area that has great potential.

“However, like all new technologies, it also has the potential to be misused, and there is understandable anxiety amongst the public around how decisions using AI are being made. The ICO is committed to remaining engaged with emerging technologies, and Reuben’s work will deepen our understanding of this complex area.”

Dr Binns has carried out extensive research into the technical, legal and ethical aspects of privacy, machine learning, and decentralised systems and he will apply this expertise to his new role.

He is currently a computer science researcher at the University of Oxford and has previously advised the European Commission around AI and machine learning issues, including helping them understand how personal data is used, including the role of algorithms. He has a BA and MSc in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in Computer Science and Law from the University of Southampton.

“I am honoured to be joining the ICO as its first Postdoctoral Research Fellow,” Dr Binns said. “AI is fast moving and increasingly important in relation to personal data, and I’m looking forward to developing and enhancing expertise at the ICO in this area.”

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