Data Protection and AI: how to apply the data protection principles to the use of information in AI systems.

Speaker: Alister Pearson, Principal Policy Advisor for AI and Data Science, Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Abstract: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to bring significant benefits for researchers. LUSTRE has identified that AI can be used to identify sensitive materials in a mass of born-digital records to make non-sensitive materials accessible and can also serve to search vast amounts of data when keyword searches would not be effective. However, the use of AI can also introduce or exacerbate risks to people’s right to privacy as well as other rights that relate to the processing of their personal information. In this presentation, I will discuss some of the main data protection risks of using AI in a research context, as well as ways to mitigate these risks. This will include considering risks during both the development and deployment of AI. My presentation will also include the ways that the Information Commissioner’s Office can further help researchers via the different services that we offer, including our recently launched Innovation Advice service. One of the aims of the presentation is to illustrate that data protection provides a framework to process people’s personal data, rather than a barrier

Bio: Alister Pearson is a Principal Policy Advisor for the AI and Data Science Team at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). He was part of the team that produced the ICO’s Guidance on AI and Data Protection and led on the development of the AI and data protection risk toolkit, which won the Accountability prize at the Global Privacy Assembly Awards 2022.


Using AI to improve Excel skills

Speaker: Angie Campbell, Preservation Manager, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).

Abstract: Using AI (Chat GPT) as a tool to assist with Excel problems and, hopefully, improve skills. Engaging in a conversation with Chat GPT, non-technical individuals can use step-by-step guidance on troubleshooting Excel issues, learn new features and functions, and gain practical knowledge to enhance their Excel proficiency.

Bio: Angie Campbell is a Preservation Manager within PRONI. Angie has over 12 years experience in collections management, including preservation, storage, and oversight of the document production service. Angie’s team includes a mix of professional/curatorial, administrative and support grade staff. Her current role involves the assessment of collections held in out-storage.


I, Historian: Researching the past in the age of Artificial Intelligence

Speaker: Dr David Brown, Senior Researcher at the Virtual Treasury of Ireland

Abstract: Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) burst into the public consciousness towards the end of 2022 with the launch of ChatGPT, a chatbot made by a company with close links to Microsoft, AI technology has been a core technology for the Virtual Treasury of Ireland since the early days of the project. Starting in 2018, the Virtual Treasury of Ireland has developed a suite of deep-learning ‘models’, perfectly curated transcriptions, to train an AI system to read digital images of historical sources relating to Ireland and convert these into searchable text files. The automatic conversion of handwritten historical documents into searchable text is the latest major step in the digitisation of our written cultural heritage. Digital images can be expensive to create, costly to store, and can degrade over time. Moreover, as digital images are so easy to produce, they have a habit of proliferating yet are no more searchable than the original records they were intended to be surrogates for. AI enables us to preserve all of the benefits of digital images while eliminating these drawbacks. The further digitisation of the images into text makes them searchable, portable and easy to store. This new ability to find a person, place or event among thousands or millions of pages of handwritten documents is the first step in an exciting AI-enabled world that will enable ever more complex historical hypotheses to be tested and questions to be answered. Emerging technologies such as the Large Language Models (LLMs), upon which ‘human-seeming’ interfaces such as ChatGPT are based, promise to enable ever more complex research questions at the touch of a button. Current research at the VRTI is demonstrating that LLMs can improve the accuracy of our transcriptions, summarize the most important information contained in dense and lengthy documents, extract people and places from text to incorporate into our Knowledge Graph and even sort documents into chronological order.

Bio: Dr David Brown is Senior Researcher at the Virtual Treasury of Ireland, a project based at Trinity College Dublin that aims to recreate a digital model of the Public Record Office of Ireland with its contents, destroyed in 1922. David has published widely on early modern empires with a particular focus on trade and finance and has been involved in digitisation projects, in various guises, for over 30 years.


RAISE: Responsible AI iS an Enabler 

Speaker: Michaela Black, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Ulster University

Abstract: The presentation will look at what is Responsible AI is and how it can help build trust in adoption of AI.

By doing so more data providers will be keen to contribute their data and thus more benefits can be grown from the learning from AI.

Speaker’s bio: Michaela Black, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Ulster University, her career has seen her apply Artificial Intelligence and gamification to a wide range of domains including: telecoms, healthcare, finance, education and marketing with 60+ publications and securing £7M+ in research and pedagogic funding. She has actively engaged in a wide range of AI projects securing funding from a wide range of funders including coordinating an EU-funded project MIDAS (Meaningful Integration of Data, Analytics and Services) 2016-2020. This 40-month project, secured €4.5m in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. It delivered Data Science hardware and software solutions to connect fragmented health data and enable policymakers across 4+ European countries to analysis data and enhance policies across a range of diverse topics such as: mental health, obesity, diabetes and looked after children, as well as sharing and ensuring uptake of excellent data access practices such as MIDAS Honest Broker Service. She is also a member of a consortium who has just secured European funding for LUCIA: Understanding Lung Cancer related risk factors and their Impact launched January 2023. Michaela is a current co-director of the engage technology, a stakeholder participation system, proven and effective platform for gaining participant input and key consensus on relevant topics using real-time digital technologies. engage has delivered successful engagements in partnership with organisations across government, industry, professional bodies, PPIs, NGOs and academia, on the island of Ireland and across Europe. This work has influenced topics such as Brexit, work force planning in Department of Health and Matrix NI Policy on Women in STEM. An active STEM ambassador, Michaela strives to encourage more women to join this field. Actively part of the Athena Swan (AS) team at UU to promote diversity and equality. She secured EPSRC funding with University of Bath Inclusion Matters Scheme, to host a datathon which aimed to improve equality, diversity and inclusion within the engineering and physical sciences.


Two alternative pathways for the application of AI for recordkeeping purposes in live systems

Speaker: James Lappin

Abstract: Originating organisations have digital material at all stages of the records lifecycle: in live systems, in legacy systems, and awaiting appraisal for possible transfer to a historical archive.  Organisations will need help from AI at each stage, but they will face different challenges at each stages in developing AI models; in deploying AI models; and/or in basing decisions and actions on AI models. 

This talk will look at the application of AI models in live systems such as the Microsoft 365 cloud suite, where end-users are working and adding content into a wide variety of aggregations (email accounts, SharePoint sites, OneDrive accounts, Teams, Chat accounts etc.).  It will look at the special challenges and opportunities the deployment of AI in live systems poses. 

Two alternative pathways for the application of AI models in live systems will be compared and contrasted:

  • One pathway uses the existing way that content is aggregated as its starting point, working within existing aggregations to make them more precise, useful and manageable; 
  • The other pathway works across the entirety of an organisation’s ‘digital heap’ (or over the entirety of the organisations M365 implementation) to identify and label important content.

The talk uses both recordkeeping theory, and experience with digital records over the past thirty years, to arrive at some predictions as to which of the two pathway is likely to provide the safer and more predictable route to using AI to achieve improvements in recordkeeping .

Speaker Bio
: James Lappin has worked in the field of archives and records management for thirty years as a practitioner, consultant, researcher, policy advisor, presenter, blogger, podcaster and cartoonist.