Round table event: The future of digital skills

  06/07/2018 10:30   Event ID :11044

This event is full.

Learning & Work Institute and University of Edinburgh wish to invite representatives from Community, Family and VCSE organisations to our round table event “The future of digital skills”, in London on Friday 6th July 2018.

The event, funded by an award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will discuss the implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for learning providers, particularly in supporting those learners with low level digital skills and competencies. Delegate feedback will influence development of a white paper to inform stakeholders about issues related to AI and automation, and the potential role of providers to support and educate adult learners. We will also introduce a forthcoming opportunity for cross-sectoral funding around Human-Data Interaction.


“All the data we generate has become as worthy of safeguarding as our money in the bank.” USA Today: April 2018.

Personal data gives large profits to social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat. Data makes online advertising super-targeted (and super-profitable) for Internet giants like Google, and data about online habits is highly lucrative for any brand selling online. Its value has been enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning systems that are able to make sense of it all in new ways and at speed.

Over the last 12 months, the UK government has committed to significant investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) through the Industrial Strategy and the AI Sector Deal. Questions of how to develop AI capabilities in the UK and, subsequently, the ethics of such developments have been a core focus – with responsibility for data policy moving to DCMS and ethics to the Alan Turning Institute.

As artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly pervades everyday life, with it comes a level of societal dependency and acceptance. Whilst the notion of an algorithm has become reasonably familiar to some, for many within society such systems defy our understanding, creating unease and concern regarding their nature and application. Even subject experts struggle to understand the emerging class of algorithms, leading to stakeholder concerns over the implications of a ‘black box society’.

This issue is ever more pressing as such technology is now commonly found in high-stakes domains such as credit scoring, employment, education, policing, criminal justice, and mental health. The potential for inequality to be automated and encoded through such systems is a real concern, particularly for those without appropriate digital skills and competencies. There is a danger that the poor will become poorer. At the same time, the 25th May (2018) sees the EU General Data Protection Regulation come into force, bringing with it a raft of subject rights and organisational responsibilities.

Aims and Objectives

L&W is keen to ensure that people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are not further disadvantaged by the increasing use of data driven systems. The purpose of this workshop is to begin work towards a common understanding of what all this means for the post-16 skills sector, what we need to know, how we might better support learners/learning and where the priorities lie. Adults are often left behind, but here the stakes are too high to ignore. The event will be first step in establishing a community endeavour focused on creating an agenda for post-16 skills in the data-driven society. It will discuss opportunities, approaches, barriers and issues to achieving this goal, developing a white paper which will inform stakeholders about issues related to AI and automation, and the role of providers to supporting the most vulnerable in our society.

The event will:

  • Share knowledge between sectors of the latest and emerging uses of Artificial Intelligence
  • Discuss its implications for individuals and for communities
  • Share perspectives between academic, community, family and VCSE providers on the necessity to prepare learners for the changes resulting from Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Discuss effective approaches to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society are not further disadvantaged as AI increasingly pervades everyday life
  • Inform the development of a white paper on issues related to AI and automation, and the potential role of providers to support and educate adult learners.
  • Introduce a forthcoming network plus in Human-Data Interaction that will fund 9 projects at £50k, 9 at £10k, and 27 at £2500 over 3 years

Attendance at this free event is strictly limited to a maximum of 35 delegates, with travel allowance for each delegate to a maximum of £100 funded by the ESRC grant.

For further information or to register, please contact Susan Easton.

Tel: 07795 227283