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Oscar Williams

News editor

Roger Taylor to chair Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation

Ofqual’s Roger Taylor has been named chair of the new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, as ministers unveil a series of measures aimed at boosting the UK’s “data capability”.

A former journalist, Taylor co-founded Dr Foster – a provider of healthcare data analysis – in 2000, and has since held a number of positions relating to the use of data in the public and private sectors.

In recent years, Taylor has advised the Cabinet Office on the use of open data in government and produced a series of publications on transparency and user engagement in public services for the Royal Society of Arts. He will continue to serve as chair of Ofqual.

“I’m looking forward to setting up the Centre and working with the board to ensure that powerful data-driven technologies are deployed in the interests of society,” Taylor said in a statement.

The ethics centre has been devised to help the UK unlock the benefits of AI while minimising the risks to citizens. Ministers today launched a consultation on its role, objectives and activities, as well as a search for a team to run it.

It came as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced a data ethics framework to guide the use of data across the public sector, and plans to develop a National Data Strategy to complement the existing digital strategy.

“The [framework] ​is a timely and very helpful step forward in how government and the public sector can use data in ways that are ethically preferable,” said philosopher Luciano Floridi of the Oxford Internet Institute.

“It is grounded in actual practices and in the core values of the ​Civil Service Code:​ integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. And it provides clear advice about how to deliver data-based solutions for social good.”

The government also confirmed plans to launch an AI masters programme run by the Alan Turing Institute and the British Computer Society. The two bodies will partner with universities and firms including Amazon, Rolls Royce and Ocado to enroll students on the courses and boost the number of AI experts in the UK.

“We’re already recognised as the number one country in the developed world in readiness for AI and we are working flat out to keep hold of that crown,” said digital secretary Matt Hancock.

“With Roger Taylor at the helm of our new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, plans to train the top-tier tech experts of tomorrow and a commitment to develop a new National Data Strategy, we will continue to be Europe’s digital dynamo and the place to start and grow a digital business.”