In July 2018, we ran Coed:Ethics a radically new event championing diverse, bottom-up, developer-driven ethics. We asked experts from inside and outside of tech how can we make technologists the last bastion of defence against unethical products. After all, we design, write and deploy them.

We had 120 attendees and trended top 10 in the UK on Twitter on the same day as a controversial Trump visit, a 250K demonstration in London, the World Cup, and Wimbledon. Tech ethics is hot! 

All the ethics talk from the conference will be available online one per week.


The tech press & our attendees did a great job of writing up the conference in advance and afterwards. Here is some of the coverage:

The Event


Our speakers

Cori Crider, a US lawyer, directed Reprieve’s Counter-Terrorism team from 2009-16. For more than a decade she has investigated and litigated abuses in the “war on terror”: Guantánamo, CIA rendition and torture, and drone attacks in undeclared war zones. She writes and speaks about the national security state and the ethics of technology in intelligence.

A US drone incinerates a carload of shoppers heading to market, including a mother and her ten-year-old daughter. A wedding is ruined when a drone hits the bridal party. A local imam denounces al-Qaeda in a sermon; he dies in a drone attack the very next week.

The debate over autonomous weapons can obscure a hard truth: ‘big data' has been used to kill people for years. Sharing insights from her investigations of US drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan, human rights lawyer Cori Crider will explore how misuse of mass surveillance data has claimed innocent lives.

Dr Caitlin McDonald is an award-winning scholar and writer about digital communities, data science, and dance. With experience in qualitative and quantitative research methods, she specialises in the intersection
between human imagination and digital systems. Caitlin obtained
her PhD from the University of Exeter in 2011.

I’m not a data scientist, yet I still care about ethics in data science. I care about it for the same reason I care about civics: I’m not a lawyer or a legislator, but laws impact my life in a way that I want to understand well enough that I know how to navigate the civic landscape effectively. By analogy, data citizens are impacted by the models, methods, and algorithms created by data scientists, but they have limited agency to affect it.  Data citizens must work with data scientists to develop methods that ensure data will be treated ethically, and that people will be treated ethically with data.

Harry Trimble, designer, IF, has designed products for the likes of Microsoft, NHS, the Design Museum and the Government Digital Service. Harry helped establish the award winning design Studio PSK and is an advisor on Design Ventura, a design competition for UK schools. 

Services should empower people to exercise their digital rights. But how do we make this change? We think the answer to this question starts with design. We need to design services that are simple and effective, and make it clear to people how data about them will be used. Services also need help people understand how automated decisions are made. And finally, we have to give product teams the training and tools to design services that respect people’s rights.

Andrea Dobson is a registered psychologist and a cognitive behavioural therapist. As a practicing psychologist, Andrea specialised in depression and anxiety disorders, complex grief and forensic psychology. Andrea works at Container Solutions developing their learning culture for developers and their leadership development programme. Recently she has been working to link patterns of user behaviour with product development efforts.

Why do people behave unethically and what can we do about it? Andrea will do a deep dive into social psychology research on behaviour, ethics and company culture. What are the anti-patterns we should all avoid?

Yanqing Cheng is a high-scale networking systems engineer with MetaSwitch Networks - a job mixing forward-looking ideas with decades-old protocols, which provides constant insights into the balancing act between innovation and stability.  She is fascinated by machine learning and future tech, and is also an avid singer and dancer.

Yanqing will be talking about ethical decision-making with a focus on how intuitions don’t scale, emotion and instincts lead us to do the wrong thing, and we are all individually full of blind spots.  She’ll attempt to show us all what doing it right might look like - at the end of the day, we may need to do things that are hard, or unappealing, or controversial in order to develop ethical new technology ethically (and yes “ethic” is in that sentence twice for a reason!).

Ádám Sándor moved from application development to a consultancy career in cloud native computing. He is a senior consultant at Container Solutions. He is helping companies succeed in improving their delivery of business critical software by combining his application development experience with knowledge of container-based infrastructure.

How might ethical decision-making fit into the everyday lives of developers and product managers? Adam from Container Solutions and Sam from Doteveryone will be talking about ethical checklists and ethical readmes.

Sam Brown is currently a Programme Manager at tech think tank Doteveryone focused on Responsible Technology and the Tech Industry. She was a National Business and Human Rights Coordinator for Amnesty International Canada for almost a decade, working on many campaigns related to business accountability frameworks and policy advocacy.

How might ethical decision-making fit into the everyday lives of developers and product managers? Adam from Container Solutions and Sam from Doteveryone will be talking about ethical checklists and processes.

Emma Prest is the Executive Director of DataKind UK. She leads a community of 1000+ pro bono data scientists, designing and delivering data science projects that turbo charge their non-profit partners' work. She works to build understanding about what data science can do in the social change sector. Emma sits on the Editorial Advisory Committee of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and on the board of Sum of Us. She was previously a programme coordinator at Tactical Tech, providing hands-on help for activists using data in campaigning. 

Clare Kitching is an experienced data scientist. During the day she is a Principal at QuantumBlack leading teams of data scientists, data engineers, designers and analysts to improve businesses’ performance using advanced analytics & data science. During the evening she volunteers for DataKind UK, helping charities to make the most of their data. Most recently she worked on a project to build a predictive model for a foodbank. Clare holds a BSc (Hons) in Maths & Statistics and a BEng (Hons) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Melbourne, plus a Master of Mathematics from the University of Cambridge.

How can data scientists avoid the potentially dangerous mistakes of big data and machine learning?

UK IT veteran Steve Worswick is the three-time winner of the Loebner Prize Turing Test - the global competition to determine whether a computer can still be distinguished from a real human. As the 2017 award holder, Steve is currently the world's best chatbot creator.

Mitsuku, currently the world's leading conversational chatbot, is a friend to thousands of real people every day from school children to AI researchers. Mitsuku and her creator Steve Worswick will talk to us about the design decisions underlying Mitsuku that allow her to stay good despite the constant efforts of the ethics hackers that took out Microsoft's Tay. 

the 2018 Conf website