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EmTech Asia 2020 Explores the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Themes of ethics, sustainability and countering AI’s dark side to be discussed at Asia’s leading emerging technology conference, 25-26 February 2020

4 February 2020, SingaporeEmTech Asia 2020, a conference co-organised by MIT Technology Review and Koelnmesse, tackles the granular issues that the tech community is facing everywhere. Key researchers and industry figureheads will discuss AI, its potential impact on society, and address questions of ethics and AI.

EmTech Asia speaker Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Technical University Berlin and University of New South Wales says, “We’ve seen many examples of technology companies behaving in ways that challenge us. But what is it about AI that is different than other technologies which have touched our lives in the past? What old ethical issues does AI put on steroids? And what new ethical issues does AI bring to the table for the first time?”

At the conference, Professor Walsh will examine a range of technological challenges from autonomous cars through predictive analytics to killer robots that may present ethical challenges.

Issues of ethics around AI calls into question the design of intelligent systems, as machines increasingly make decisions on behalf of humans. Roland Chin, President and Vice-chancellor of Hong Kong Baptist University believes that the design of intelligent systems and relevant decision-making processes needs to align with accepted moral values and ethical principles.

“The challenge is not just to code fixed ethical values into intelligent systems but also to operationalise diverse and evolving ethical values across cultures and nations. Bottom-up approaches seek the shared ethical values of the crowd by involving many people to arrive at accepted decisions about ethical dilemmas, whereas top-down approaches rely on philosophers to develop principles from humankind’s collective ethical wisdom amassed over generations and across cultures,” he says.

During his presentation Professor Chin will call for a holistic approach; integrative learning in ethical awareness and competences, instead of treating ethics as an add-on subject in STEM programs.

While AI can be used for good, it also has a dark side.

Co-author of Ghost Work, How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a Global Underclass, Mary L. Gray, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, questions the good of AI. At EmTech Asia, she will discuss how, although AI has been heralded as a salve for much of the web’s ills and a revolutionary tool for humankind, it’s not a panacea, and that in reality, there are armies of human labourers being used by tech companies to step in when AI doesn’t work. She poses the question, “What will the future of this workforce be, and how can labour laws adapt to meet changing needs?”.

It is important that the development of AI creates new opportunities to improve the lives of people around the world. Speaker Peter Norvig, Director of Research, Google Inc. says that the subject is also raising new questions about the best way to build fairness into these systems. At EmTech Asia, Peter will explore these issues and outline what AI scientists can do to build fairer AI systems.

Overview of AI

Claire Beatty, Editorial Director, MIT Technology Review Insights will present the latest trends in AI and the outlook for Corporate Data Alliances at EmTech Asia.

Along with insights into trends in global AI adoption, focusing on the leading use cases, challenges, and risks involved, Claire will also present the results of a survey of 1,000 business leaders worldwide, "The global AI agenda” examines the potential for companies across industries to share data in new ways that results in value for businesses and consumers.

David Budden, Research Engineering Team Lead, DeepMind will share his insights on the systems engineering behind some of the most impressive AI demonstrations in recent years.

Erin Bradner, Director, Robotics Lab, Autodesk will outline technology trends expected to shape how industrial robots will look and operate in the future. These trends include machine learning, modular robotics, closed-loop control, new user interfaces, and advanced computer simulation. She draws on research from academia and industry to help us understand why robots will become increasingly more adaptable, flexible, and interconnected.

Register to hear these speakers at the EmTech Asia conference, held on 25-26 February 2020 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore.


  1. Register for EmTech Asia as media here.
  2. The full programme agenda and speaker biographies are on
  3. Download high-res photos here. All photos should be credited to EmTech Asia 2019.
  4. Contact Theodore Woon at to request interviews with these speakers.

About MIT Technology Review:

Founded in 1899 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Technology Review is a digitally oriented global media company whose mission is to bring about better-informed and more conscious decisions about technology through authoritative, influential, and trustworthy journalism. We do this in features, news analysis, business reports, photo essays, reviews, and interactive digital experiences. We do this with beautifully designed platforms and publications online, in print, on mobile, and in person at live events around the world. We invite our readers to probe deeper, examine data, and get to know experts and their opinions to see, explore, and understand new technologies and their impact. MIT Technology Review’s audience is anyone, anywhere, who believes that technology can solve hard problems, grow prosperity, and expand human possibilities. Accuracy and independence are our highest priorities: our coverage is independent of any influence, including our ownership by MIT. Subscribe.


MIT Technology Review Media Relations

About EmTech Asia:

EmTech Asia is where technology, business, and culture converge. It is the showcase for emerging technologies with the greatest potential to change our lives and an access point to the most innovative people and companies in the world. Most of all, it is a place of inspiration — an opportunity to glimpse the future and begin to understand the technologies that matter and how they will change the face of business and drive the new global economy. For more information, please visit

Find us on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn with the official event hashtag, #EmTechAsia


Theodore Woon, Pinpoint PR

M: +65 9155 3507


About Koelnmesse:

Koelnmesse is one of the world's largest trade fair companies. Its more than 70 trade fairs and exhibitions have the broadest international scope in the industry, as 60 percent of the exhibitors and 40 percent of the visitors come from outside Germany. The Koelnmesse events include the leading global trade fairs for 25 sectors, such as imm cologne, Anuga, IDS, INTERMOT, Interzum Cologne, Photokina, Gamescom and the International Hardware Fair Cologne. Koelnmesse is MIT Technology Review’s co-organiser for EmTech Asia and Innovators Under 35 Asia Pacific.

For more information, please visit


Lena Ng, Koelnmesse

M: +65 9825 8589


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