On 9th September 2020 the Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, asked a question of Government about the use of artificial intelligence in dealing with COVID-19:
Covid-19: Artificial Intelligence
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the report by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation AI Barometer, published on 18 June, what assessment they have made of the benefits and risks of the use of artificial intelligence in addressing the impact of COVID-19.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Barran) (Con): My Lords, artificial intelligence played a very important role in responding to Covid, from identifying potential drug candidates to AI-driven education technology. AI also has the potential to drive productivity gains across sectors, supporting exciting new careers and businesses as an essential part of economic recovery. It is important that we keep society engaged as we do, so the centre’s Covid-19 repositories and its public attitudes surveys inform our understanding of public sentiment. The independent AI Council advises the Government on how best to realise the benefits and mitigate the risks.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford [V]: I thank the Minister for her Answer, and I draw attention to my registered interest as a board member of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. A year ago, the Prime Minister set out a vision, in his speech to the United Nations, for the UK to become a global leader in ethical and responsible technologies. We are discovering more deeply and painfully that ethics, good governance, human mediation and public trust are vital to realise the deeper benefits of these new technologies and prevent real harm. Will the noble Baroness affirm the importance of balancing innovation with a continued emphasis on ethics and good governance across the technology sector? In particular, will she confirm that the long-delayed government response to their own online harms consultation will be published this month, paving the way for much-needed legislation? Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford asks about ethics in technology, and use of AI in coronavirus response”
On 11th June 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Hayman, “that this House takes note of the case for post-COVID-19 recovery strategies that will contribute to a fairer, cleaner, and more sustainable economy.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I warmly welcome this debate. The country faces the triple challenge in the next decade of the threat of climate change, the deepest recession for generations and the health challenges of Covid, all of which will exacerbate existing inequalities. I support much of what other noble Lords have said and will focus my remarks on the vital theme of digital inclusion.
Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford calls for post-Covid economy with fast, affordable internet access for all”
On 20th June 2019 Lord Bird led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion “that this House takes note of the case for better protecting and representing the interests of future generations in policy-making.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate, and his speech is below. The speech of the Bishop of Leeds in the same debate can be seen here.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I too welcome this debate and thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, very warmly for bringing it. I welcome his proposals. As the noble Lord, Lord Layard, said, the foundation is a moral and ethical case. That moral case has shifted in recent years because of the realisation of the effects of the Anthropocene era. Humanity’s effect on the environment means that the interests of not just the next generation but every generation beyond that need to be protected in our policy-making and debate.
Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford on future generations, climate change and technology policies”
On the 13th June 2019 the bishop of St Albans the Rt Revd Alan Smith received a written answer from the government about 5G spectrum sharing.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by Nominet 5G spectrum sharing, published in September 2018, which explores dynamic spectrum access possibilities for 5G. [HL16047]
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about 5G mobile networks”
On 28th March 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered questions from MPs on digital connectivity, the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women, and Easter church attendance.
The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Church Land and Buildings: Digital Connectivity
Mrs Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) (Con): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what progress has been made on implementing the joint accord between the Government and the Church of England on the use of Church land and buildings to support digital connectivity. 
Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: digital connectivity, ordination of women, Easter”
On Monday 3rd December 2018 Baroness Benjamin asked Her Majesty’s Government “what financial and other resources will be available to the UK Council for Internet Safety.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, may I extend this question a little further? This is such an important issue and our generation will be judged on it as the internet and digital age takes over. Noble Lords will know those clever algorithms that are so good at selling us things—if we buy one thing they will try to sell us something else. Those could be turned towards the interests of internet safety by advancing something called safety by design. What consideration are the Government giving to much more forward-thinking legislation not just to support bodies such as the Council for Internet Safety, but to introduce measures to make our inhabiting of the digital world safer and more creative? Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford asks Government about internet safety”
On 19th November 2018, Lord Clement-Jones tabled a Motion ‘That this House takes note of the Report from the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence AI in the UK: ready, willing and able? (HL Paper 100).’ The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, served on the committee that produced the report and he spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, it was a pleasure to serve as part of your Lordships’ Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, and an education. I join others in paying tribute to the expertise and skill of our chair, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and our excellent staff and advisers.
At the beginning of my engagement with AI, what kept me awake at night was the prospect of what AI might mean for the distant future: the advent of conscious machines, killer robots and artificial general intelligence. We are probably more than a generation away from those risks. But what kept me awake as the inquiry got under way—it really did—were the possibilities and risks of AI in the present.
Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford calls for vigorous public debate on impact of artificial intelligence”
On 16th April 2018 the House of Lords’ Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence published its report (which can be read here). The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steve Croft, was a member of the Committee and published the following blog on his website about the report:
THE ONLY WAY IS ETHICS
Developing Artificial Intelligence in the UK
For the past year, I’ve been a member of the House of Lords’ Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence. The Committee of 13 members received 223 pieces of written evidence and took oral sessions from 57 witnesses over 22 sessions between October and December. It has been a fascinating process. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford on Developing Artificial Intelligence in the UK”