2021 Distinguished Lecture

April 9, 2021

Walking the Walk on AI Ethics: How to Align Tech Companies’ AI Ethics Commitments with Civil and Human Rights Ideals
Distinguished Lecturer: Deirdre Mulligan
Commentator: Nuala O’Connor

A recording of the Zoom Webinar is available on YouTube. The video is supported with closed captioning for accessibility.

The Program on Data and Governance is honored to host Deirdre Mulligan and Nuala O’Connor for its 5th annual Distinguished Lecture.


About the Event

After a flood of stories about the biased, and at times discriminatory, outputs of AI systems, technology companies have sought to frame themselves as sensitive to diversity, equity and inclusion and as creators of responsible and just AI. But are they?

Berkeley Professor Deirdre Mulligan will explore how companies talk about diversity and inclusion in AI ethics work, and assess what those statements suggest about the relationship between AI ethics initiatives and civil rights ideals. She will show that, while companies do discuss diversity and inclusion in ways that are digestible for engineers and tractable in data science work, their commitments tend to drift away from the civil and human rights principles on which they are based. Companies need to put AI ethics more directly in conversation with, and in the service of, civil rights and human rights ideals.

Nuala O’Connor, Chief Counsel for Digital Citizenship at Walmart, will comment on the lecture.

Distinguished Lecturer: Deirdre Mulligan

Deirdre K. Mulligan is a Professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley, a Faculty Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, and a co-organizer of the Algorithmic Fairness & Opacity Working Group. Her research explores legal and technical means of protecting values such as privacy, freedom of expression, and fairness in emerging technical systems. Her book, Privacy on the Ground: Driving Corporate Behavior in the United States and Europe, a study of privacy practices in large corporations in five countries, conducted with UC Berkeley Law Prof. Kenneth Bamberger was published by MIT Press.

Commentator: Nuala O’Connor

Photo of Nuala O'ConnorNuala O’Connor is the Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel, Digital Citizenship at Walmart. Before joining Walmart, she served as the President and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology. In the private sector, Nuala served as both Vice President of Compliance and Customer Trust and Associate General Counsel for Privacy and Data Protection at Amazon, was the Chief Privacy Leader at General Electric, and held both privacy leadership and legal counsel roles at DoubleClick. In the public sector, Nuala served as the first Chief Privacy Officer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).