Governance Of and By Digital Technology

Online Conference

 Wednesday 18 November 2020, 14:00-18:00 CET

The “Governance Of and By Digital Technology” conference was hosted by the EPFL International Risk Governance Center (IRGC) and the Trigger Project.

This event brought together leading policymakers, researchers and practitioners to discuss the rapid pace of technological change and society’s increasing reliance on digital technologies.

In addition to issues regarding the governance of technology, this event included discussions of governance by technology, looking at the danger that decision-making algorithms will reduce or remove the ability of people and societies to make decisions. What kinds of rules and regulations are necessary to prevent new technologies from causing harm?

Conference videos

Welcome and Introductions

Keynote 1

Stuart Russell – Governing AI: A few suggestions

Session 1

Privacy, efficacy and the digital response to Covid-19

Keynote 2

 Joanna Bryson – Governing AI made easy

Session 2

Governance of technology:
the challenges of regulating machine learning

Session 3

Governance with and by technology:
digitally enabled policymaking


14:00 - Welcome and Introductions
  • Marie-Valentine Florin, EPFL
  • Andrea Renda, CEPS
  • Jim Larus, EPFL

See the Speakers ►

14:20 - Privacy, efficacy and the digital response to Covid-19

Data protection is at the heart of debates about the governance of digital technologies, but concerns have been raised about hampering innovation. This session will assess the relationship between privacy and technological efficacy, drawing on the recent development of Covid-19 contact tracing apps.
Moderation: Jim Larus, EPFL

  • Jeffrey Bohn, “Striking a balance between data privacy & effective machine intelligence for algorithm development“, Swiss Re
  • Elettra Ronchi, “Are there lessons about governance of and by technology to be learned from the rapid roll-out of digital contact tracing apps as part of governments’ urgent public health response to Covid-19?”, OECD
  • Michael Veale, “Privacy, infrastructure and the digital response to Covid-19”, University College London

See the Speakers ►

15:10 - Keynotes
  • Stuart Russell, “Governing AI: A few suggestions”, University of California, Berkeley
  • Joanna Bryson, “Governing AI made easy”, Hertie School

See the Speakers ►

15:40 - Governance of technology: the challenges of regulating machine learning

The increasing role played by machine-learning algorithms in a growing range of decision-making processes raises legal, technical and ethical challenges. In this roundtable session, participants will discuss the priorities, constraints and trade-offs that policy-makers face in the regulation of machine learning.
A roundtable discussion with Andrea Renda (facilitator), Stuart Russell, Joanna Bryson and:

  • John Zysman, “Governing AI: Understanding the limits, possibility, and risks of AI in an era of intelligent tools and systems”, University of California, Berkeley
  • Karen Yeung, “Why the EU White Paper’s approach is incorrectly described as ‘risk-based’“, University of Birmingham
  • Bernd Stahl, “Governing AI ecosystems”, de Montfort University
  • Raja Chatila, “Technical robustness and safety of AI based systems as a means for their governance”, Sorbonne University
  • Kelsey Farish, “Difficulties in regulating emerging and rapidly evolving digital technologies: Deep fakes”, DAC Beachcroft

See the Speakers ►

16:50 - Break
17:00 - Governance with and by technology: digitally enabled policymaking

Given the transformation that new technologies have unleashed in many areas of life, the impact in the public sector has been relatively modest. This session will discuss whether greater use could or should be made of digital technologies in developing and implementing public policy.
Moderation: Marie-Valentine Florin, EPFL

  • Gianluca Misuraca, “Digital Europe 2040: AI & public sector innovation in a data driven society”, Danube University Krems
  • Bryan Ford, “When and why Machine Learning should never, ever be used in governance”, EPFL
  • Peteris Zilgalvis, “The EU approach to blockchain/DLTs”, European Commission

See the Speakers ►


Jeffrey Bohn

Chief Research & Innovation Officer and Head of Research & Engagement
Swiss Re Institute

Joanna Bryson

Professor of Ethics and Technology
Hertie School

Raja Chatila

Professor Emeritus of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Ethics
Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics, Sorbonne University

Aengus Collins

Deputy Director

Kelsey Farish

Lawyer (Solicitor – England & Wales)
DAC Beachcroft LLP

Marie-Valentine Florin

Executive Director

Bryan Alexander Ford

Associate Professor
Decentralized and Distributed Systems Lab, EPFL

James Larus

Academic Director, IRGC@EPFL
Professor & Dean, School of Computer and Communication Sciences, EPFL

Gianluca Misuraca

Research Fellow on eGovernance and Public Administration
Danube University Krems

Andrea Renda

Senior Research Fellow and Head of Global Governance, Regulation, Innovation and the Digital Economy (GRID)

Elettra Ronchi

Senior Policy Analyst in the Science, Technology and Innovation Directorate

Stuart J. Russell

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, UC Berkeley
Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery, UC San Francisco

Bernd Stahl

Director of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility
De Montfort University

Michael Veale

Lecturer in Digital Rights and Regulation
Faculty of Laws, UCL SLASH

Karen Yeung

Interdisciplinary Professorial Fellow in Law, Ethics and Informatics
University of Birmingham

Peteris Zilgalvis, J.D.

Head of Unit, Digital Innovation and Blockchain
DG CONNECT, European Commission

John Zysman

Professor Emeritus of Political Science
UC Berkeley

Event Organizers

Contact Us

EPFL International Risk
Governance Center

Station 5 BAC (Bassenges)
1015 Lausanne

+41 21 693 82 90