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Three new Oversight Board members appointed to the Ada Lovelace Institute

The Nuffield Foundation has appointed three new members to the Board of the Ada Lovelace Institute.

9 August 2023

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The Nuffield Foundation has appointed three new members to the Oversight Board of the Ada Lovelace Institute, founded in 2018 with a mission to make data and AI work for people and society:

  • Ali Shah, Global Principal Director for Responsible AI, Accenture
  • Shakir Mohamed, Director for Research, Google DeepMind
  • Professor Shannon Vallor, Baillie Gifford Professor in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence, University of Edinburgh

The new appointees bring diverse and cross-disciplinary expertise and perspectives to the Institute, complementing those of existing Oversight Board members Chris Todd, John Thornhill, Alix Dunn, Rocio Concha Galguera and Francine Bennett.

In addition to leading the strategic development of the Ada Lovelace Institute, the Oversight Board is also responsible for its long-term sustainability. Oversight Board members also play a role in identifying and advising on potential research questions or projects relating to the use of data and AI.

Francine Bennett, Oversight Board member and Interim Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute, said: ‘These exciting appointments bring a range of necessary expertise to the Institute as it continues to equip itself to meet the strategic challenges emerging technologies present to the development of a just and equitable society. These appointments reflect the Institute’s commitment to working across sectors and disciplines to define our strategy and fulfil our mission.’

Tim Gardam, Chief Executive Officer of the Nuffield Foundation, said: ‘The new members of the Oversight Board are joining Ada at a crucial time, as the impact of data and AI on society continues to accelerate. I look forward to working with all the Oversight Board members to help Ada thrive as a leading organisation engaging with policymakers, industry and those affected by technologies, and shaping this potentially transformative moment for society.’

About the newly appointed Oversight Board members

Ali Shah is a Global Principal Director of Accenture’s efforts to ensure AI is a force for good, working in the interests of citizens and society. His expertise in AI, data ethics, privacy and regulation helps ensure Accenture and its clients can understand and address the challenges AI and emerging technologies present.

Prior to Accenture he was Head of Technology Policy at the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, where he was accountable for emerging technology regulatory policy. His leadership and expertise focused on AI, data ethics, cross regulatory collaboration and investigations, privacy by design engineering, and award-winning work related to AI risk and Childrens safety online.  Ali has also held roles at the BBC related to emerging technology strategy, engineering, innovation, and AI ethics.

Ali Shah said: ‘Over the last five years I have seen first-hand how Ada has quickly established itself as an essential voice for representing citizens and society, bringing expert evidence-based analysis to complex issues ranging from the COVID response to the use of biometric technologies. Ada has materially shaped the way societal interest is considered by policy makers and practitioners, while maintaining its impartiality and independence and constantly seeking to include those impacted by technology into its approach.

‘Ada’s approach, and Ada’s voice, is needed more than ever as the next five years will raise ever more complex and disruptive issues that impact all of us. The essential role Ada already plays is now critical and urgent, and I am humbled and honoured to be joining the Board to support Ada’s mission.’

Shakir Mohamed works on technical and sociotechnical questions in machine learning research, leading work in generative models, healthcare and environment, and ethics and diversity. Shakir is a Director for Research at Google DeepMind in London, an Associate Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, and an Honorary Professor of University College London. Shakir is a founder and trustee of the Deep Learning Indaba, a grassroots charity whose work is to build pan-African capacity and leadership in AI.

Shakir also serves on the Board of Directors for the major conferences in the field of machine learning and AI (ICML, ICLR, NeurIPS). He is a member of the Royal Society diversity and inclusion committee and the international scientific advisory committee for the pan-Canadian AI strategy. Shakir is from South Africa, he completed a postdoc at the University of British Columbia, received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, and received his masters and undergraduate degrees in electrical and information engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Shakir Mohamed said: ‘The Ada Lovelace Institute has a unique and vital role within the AI ecosystem, and I’m excited to join the Oversight Board to advance the Institute’s mission to ensure that data and AI work for people and society.

The interconnectedness of AI, justice and safety requires a forward looking and holistic vision for sociotechnical research, community engagement and policy insights, and is a vision that the Institute has had tremendous success in bringing to life. This success sets up the Institute for even greater ambition and impact in its next phase, and I’m excited to help strengthen this needed vision and work.’

Shannon VallorShannon Vallor is the Baillie Gifford Professor in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh, where she is appointed in Philosophy and directs the Centre for Technomoral Futures in the Edinburgh Futures Institute. Professor Vallor’s research explores how AI and related technologies reshape human moral character and capabilities, and her work includes advising policymakers, regulators and industry on the ethical design and governance of AI.

She is a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute, and Co-Director of the UKRI BRAID (Bridging Responsible AI Divides) programme. Her published works include Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting and the forthcoming The AI Mirror: Reclaiming Our Humanity in an Age of Machine Thinking.

Professor Shannon Vallor said: ‘I am thrilled to be joining the Oversight Board of the Ada Lovelace Institute, a global leader in independent research and engagement on AI and data’s rapidly growing impact on our lives, communities and institutions.

‘Today, public understanding of AI and data is increasingly clouded and distorted by media hype and polarising narratives, all too often driven by powerful actors that drown out other voices. This makes Ada’s mission to inform an equitable, just and humane technology ecosystem all the more urgent. I am honoured to have the opportunity to help Ada steer and sustain their vital work.’