Who Has Agency

If problems are anticipated who can do something about it?

The Markets

Funders of Research


Transnational Organisations




The People

Here are some examples where people in these categories have made, or tried to make a difference

The Markets

Two of the largest investors in Apple are urging the iPhone maker to take action against smartphone addiction among children over growing concerns about the effects of technology and social media on the youth.

In an open letter to Apple on Monday, New York-based Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) said the firm must do more to help children fight addiction on its devices.

“There is a developing consensus around the world including Silicon Valley that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility,” said the investors, who collectively control $2bn of Apple stock.

“Apple can play a defining role in signalling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do.”

The group urged Apple to offer tools to help children avoid addiction and give parents more options to protect their children’s health through monitoring usage. Apple’s iOS already offers limited parental controls, including restrictions on apps, use of features such as location sharing and access to certain kinds of content.

But the investors said that Apple should allow parents to be able set the age of the user of the phone on setup, and implement limits on screen time, hours of the day the phone can be used and block social media services.

They also proposed that Apple should establish an expert committee including child development specialists, which should produce annual reports, and offer Apple’s vast information to researchers on the issue.

The investors cited several studies on the negative effects on children’s mental and physical health caused by heavy usage of smartphones and social media. These range from distractions in the classroom and issues around focus on educational tasks to higher risks of suicide and depression.

The open letter reflects growing concerns on the long-term impact of technology such as smartphones and social media on children. Technology firms are yet to publicly acknowledge the issues around children and their company’s creations, but even Silicon Valley heads have started to raise the alarm. Former Facebook president Sean Parker described the site as made to exploit human vulnerability, saying: “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

Another former Facebook executive, Chamath Palihapitiya, said he specifically opted out of social media because it was “eroding the core foundations of how people behave”.

“I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that shit. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that shit,” said Palihapitiya.

With many apps, sites and devices being designed to be as addictive as possible to grow user numbers and maintain eyeballs on screens, children are increasingly being either seen as collateral damage or specifically targeted as the next generation of users.

Apple did not comment at time of publication.


Transnational organisations?

Addictive behaviours: Gaming disorder

14 September 2018 | Q&A

Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions.

The inclusion of a disorder in ICD is a consideration which countries take into account when planning public health strategies and monitoring trends of disorders.

WHO released the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) in mid-2018.

A decision on inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 is based on reviews of available evidence and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions that were involved in the process of technical consultations undertaken by WHO in the process of ICD-11 development.

The inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 follows the development of treatment programmes for people with health conditions identical to those characteristic of gaming disorder in many parts of the world, and will result in the increased attention of health professionals to the risks of development of this disorder and, accordingly, to relevant prevention and treatment measures. 

Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities. However, people who partake in gaming should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities, as well as to any changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behaviour. 



Artificial Intelligence and Public Standards Report

We concluded that the UK does not need a new AI regulator, but that all regulators must adapt to the challenges that AI poses to their sectors. The Committee endorses the government’s intention to establish CDEI as an independent, statutory body that will advise government and regulators in this area.

US Lawmakers propose Algorithmic Accountability Act intended to regulate AI

The Act would require companies to consider the “accuracy, fairness, bias, discrimination, privacy and security” of their AI tools and systems. The Act’s scope is broad and covers companies with over $50 million in average annual gross receipts, that hold personal information of at least 1 million individuals or their devices, or that act primarily as data brokers, will fall under the Act’s purview. 

Parliament leads the way on first set of EU rules for Artificial Intelligence

It was adopted with 559 votes in favour, 44 against, and 88 abstentions.

Future laws should be made in accordance with several guiding principles, including: a human-centric and human-made AI; safety, transparency and accountability; safeguards against bias and discrimination; right to redress; social and environmental responsibility; and respect for privacy and data protection.

Researchers and Funders of Research

Ethicals Approval

Regulatory Approval

Funding Priorities

Reporting and Compliance

Whistle Blowing

Project Termination

Anticipatory Governance

Ethical, Black Box, GDPR Explainability and AI Governors