Policy Fellowship for Tom McNeil

Strategic Adviser to West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner & Strategic Board Member, West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner’s Office (view profile)

Tom is a lawyer and is the Strategic Adviser to the West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner, as well as sitting on his Strategic Board. He leads on a range of policy areas, including the ethics oversight of policing AI such as predictive policing and facial recognition programmes.

Tom also sits on a range of boards including the National Union of Students and various public sector strategic boards with a particular focus on supporting vulnerable children. He is also undertaking a part-time PhD into the role of deliberative democracy and criminal justice.

Objectives

• My work in relation to ethical oversight of controversial artificial intelligence projects including influencing national policy, and my work around advocacy in data sharing and use of AI in the public sector, requires I keep up to date with cutting edge developments in the uses of AI and the debates surrounding them. Given I am a social scientist by background, having the opportunity to build my understanding of the technological and scientific landscape from expert academics would be an invaluable intellectual resource for informing my approach to these challenging conversations in my work. I sit on a number of influential strategic public and third sector boards and I am very proactive in sharing best practice, raising issues I have learned about and or connecting policymakers together with other thinkers to help spur change.

• Building an awareness of leading thinkers in relation to some of the questions I outline below, would provide me with opportunities for learning more and exploring collaboration, all with the view to better informing evidence-led policy in my work. I have frequently forged links with thought leaders through my work in AI and policing once I have become aware of new perspectives and areas of expertise. Having the opportunity to expand my network in this context would present fantastic new opportunities.

• My work in policy (and before as a charity lawyer) is incredibly diverse and varied. I am very extremely eager to continue to build my knowledge of the scientific horizon in multiple areas even if not obviously connected to my immediate work. Not only are relevant policy links sometimes made between unlikely issues, but it would also help me in my professional development for potential future roles and work which for me are likely to always be in the public or third sector.

• I would also hope to offer academics insights into my own work, such as some of the social and governance complexities of working through emerging technological issues within a devolved authority, and the complex array of stakeholders across academia, central government, the public and local authorities.

Questions

  • 1. How can technology be used to better enable real time multi-agency data sharing within the public sector in a way that is affordable, adaptable and flexible in terms of new functionality and issues such as data visualisation?
  • 2. How can technology be used to enable ‘widespread and mass’ high quality public engagement and deliberation on complex public policy issues, including issues of science?
  • 3. What are some of the current debates around key models of predictive artificial intelligence, in terms of predictive power, and how can these data science issues be made accessible to non-data scientists?
  • 4. What are some of the emerging technologies in the online space or virtual arenas, including developments surrounding the dark web, cyber security in online public infrastructure or covert online communication tools?
  • 5. Is there ‘specific’ thinking around the detail of what new law and regulation might look like for emerging technology such as live facial recognition?
  • 6. What is some of the current thinking about the kind of responsibilities large technology organisations should take in terms of internal ethics within their technology design and the nature of who they will partner with or the limitations on the types of projects they will engage with in a public sector context?