Takeaways from the Understanding Machine Learning Masterclass


Yesterday, the Future of Privacy Forum provided bespoke training on machine learning as a side event during the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection Conference (CPDP2020) in Brussels. The Understanding Machine Learning masterclass is a training aimed at policymakers, law scholars, social scientists and others who want to more deeply understand the data-driven technologies that are front of mind for data protection discussions. The training received a lot of interest from academics, civil society, and key staff from policymakers in Brussels.

The expert speakers consisted of:

  • Dr. Reuben Binns, Postdoctoral researcher in Computer Science at the University of Oxford
  • Dr. Richard Tomsett – IBM Emerging Technology; Emerging Technology Specialist
  • Nicholas Schmidt – Partner, BLDS LLC; Head of the AI/ML Practice

The speakers opened the black box of machine learning step by step. A key question the speakers answered was: How do you get from mathematical regression analysis to (unsupervised) learning and end up with a neural network?

The presentations shed light on the black box by bringing the details of the technology to an audience without an in-depth computer science background. Starting with a primer on the basics of the field, the speakers examined issues of particular consequence to policymakers such as transparency, fairness, bias, and discrimination.

The slides are available for download here. Attendees also received a copy of FPF’s Privacy Expert’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, a guide that explains the technological basics of AI and ML systems at a level of understanding useful for non-programmers, and addresses certain privacy challenges associated with the implementation of new and existing ML-based products and services. Learn more about FPF’s presence in Europe.