Well-designed #AI can help overcome bias said AI expert Professor Nick Jennings, @ImperialCollege’s Vice Provost (Research and Enterprise).

Professor Nick Jennings, who has previously served as the UK government’s Chief Scientific Advisor for National Security, shared insights last Tuesday about the threat posed by biased algorithmic decision-making, the ways the AI community is addressing this, and the potential for algorithms to actively support positive outcomes for diversity and inclusion.

Diversity and inclusion in cyber security

Subtle biases create an environment where racism can exist … [such as] an automatic assumption that the CEO is anyone other than the Black person.Oz Alashe

Professor Jennings was speaking in an online panel discussion on diversity and inclusion in the cyber security industry. The event marked the publication of results from the first annual diversity and inclusion survey carried out by the National Cyber Security Centre and KPMG and supported by Professor Jennings. Dione le Tissier, Director in KPMG’s Aerospace and Defence practice, revealed key findings including that 18% of Black respondents, 15% of women and 21% of transgender people experienced career barriers due to their identities.

Panellists such as Ms le Tissier and Oz Alashe MBE, CEO and Founder of cyber security company CybSafe, also shared personal experiences of discrimination. Mr Alashe said: “It’s [often] subtle biases that create an environment where racism can exist … whether that’s an automatic assumption that the CEO is anyone other than the Black person or clear audible and visible surprise when people hear my accent having previously only seen my name in writing …. These are all manifestations of this bias that I’ve been talking about, and it’s really important that we recognise this.”

The National Cyber Security Centre will use the new annual survey to track the effectiveness of measures to improve diversity and inclusion in the industry. Imperial College London is recognised as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research by the National Cyber Security Centre and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Avoiding biased AI

Here we have a great opportunity to see some of the upside of AI and its ability to make decisions in a different way to humans and from a different standpoint.Professor Nick Jennings

At the event, Professor Jennings addressed the role that algorithmic decision-making employed in cyber-security and other industries can play in amplifying human biases. He said: “Machine learning is very much driven by data … If you feed in biased data, you’re going to get biased data out of it.”

“High profile examples include recruitment software that looks at previous CVs and looks for what successful candidates have and what unsuccessful ones have. That can lead to biased decisions by algorithms [that have] learnt from biased decisions that have been made in the past. It’s important that we look at data. [Otherwise] you end up with face recognition software that’s good for white men and less for BAME women, or software used in US courts that’s biased against African American people in terms of giving them bail.”


Professor Jennings said that biases in the data used for algorithmic decision-making can be avoided through technological solutions and by improving diversity among the people who create and use AI software.

“There are a range of tools and methods you can use to interrogate your data and identify where there are incomplete or unrepresentative examples, and there are examples of de-biasing tools out there,” he said. “[We also need to consider] the people that programme AI systems … we need to make sure that they are representative of the community. And when we explore and test software we need to do so in a wide range or circumstances with a wide range of users.”

Using AI to avoid bias

Professor Nick Jennings

Professor Nick Jennings

While AI can amplify bias, it can also be a useful tool for overcoming it, Professor Jennings said.

“Here we have a great opportunity to see some of the upside of AI and its ability to make decisions in a different way to humans and from a different standpoint. My view of many AI systems is that they’re going to come into being in partnership with humans.”

“[This] gives you the ability for both the human and the machine to tackle similar problems and check with one another where they disagree. From a diversity and bias perspective … if we can construct our way of working between humans and machines so that there is dialogue between the two then you can get them to cross-check one another.”

“If you think about the way medicine works, you often have a number of doctors looking at a particularly problematic case … AI lets you replicate that diversity and multiplicity of decision makers and perspectives.”

Progress at Imperial

Imperial is carrying out a range of research to allow industry to interrogate the decision-making procedures used by AI systems, guarantee ethical AI decision-making and promote responsible business leadership.

It is also working to improve the diversity of its community and has recently unveiled a raft of measures to improve diversity and inclusion at the university

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page