Cansu Canca

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Cansu Canca

Philosopher, Founder/Director of the AI Ethics Lab

Cansu Canca is a philosopher and the founder/director of the AI Ethics Lab, where she leads teams of computer scientists, philosophers, and legal scholars to provide ethics analysis and guidance to researchers and practitioners.

Cansu Canca Profile Photo

Cansu Canca is a philosopher and the founder and director of the AI Ethics Lab. AI Ethics Lab is one of the first initiatives focusing exclusively on the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI), advising practitioners and conducting multidisciplinary research. Canca leads teams of computer scientists, philosophers, legal scholars, and other experts in research, development of toolkits, and consulting. In addition to her role at the Lab, she serves as an ethics expert in EU-funded research projects focusing on the ethics of AI, robotics, human enhancement, and law enforcement AI technologies.

She is frequently invited to speak to leaders in industry and academia having given keynotes at Harvard Business School, the U.S. Department of Justice, and TEDxCambridge among others.

Canca holds a Ph.D. in philosophy specializing in applied ethics. Before her work on technology, she spent over a decade working in ethics and health on a range of topics including resource allocation, human subject research, and end-of-life decisions. She was on the full-time faculty at the University of Hong Kong Medical School, and a researcher at the Harvard Law School, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, National University of Singapore, Osaka University, and the World Health Organization. Merging her areas of expertise, most recently, she has been working on the ethics of technologies targeting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Featured Videos

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Cansu Canca

Cansu Canca on Incorporating Ethics in the Innovation Process
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Cansu Canca

Cansu Canca talks Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Ethics
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Cansu Canca

Cansu Canca speaks on Privacy Preserving
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Cansu Canca

Cansu Canca talks about Technology Enhancement through Ethics
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Cansu Canca

Cansu Canca speaks on Solving Ethical Problems

Cansu Canca’s Speech Topics

  • Ethical Design and the Use of Digital Technologies during Health Crises

    The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that global scale health crises require going beyond traditional public health measures. Technology holds great potential in helping us scale up the efforts to collectively fight a health crisis. But harvesting this potential should not, and need not, come with ethical violations. In this talk, Canca demonstrates how to combine ethical reasoning, design thinking, and policy decisions to develop timely and ethical tech responses to health crises.  


  • An AI Ethics Roadmap: Ethical Puzzle-Solving in Organizations

    AI technologies bring novel ethics risks for companies developing or using these systems. Effectively navigating these risks requires approaching ethics questions as puzzles to be solved rather than merely applying a set of standardized rules. This talk is focused on how to systematize this ethical puzzle-solving horizontally throughout the innovation process and vertically throughout the organizational structure. 


  • Going Beyond AI Principles: How to Operationalize Principles

    Around the world, various organizations have announced over 100 sets of AI principles. Canca draws on AI Ethics Lab’s research on the global landscape of AI principles, unwraps the common threads and common shortcomings of these principles, and demonstrate how they can be transformed into practical frameworks.


  • Experimenting with Machines and Humans: Research Ethics in AI R&D

    History is rich with examples of individuals being mistreated in the name of research. The rules and regulations that developed in response, however, fail to provide comprehensive guidance on how to carry on AI research with human subjects while protecting individuals. Canca draws from her extensive experience in research ethics and the Lab’s work on ethics of AI research to re-examine traditional concepts like “consent” and “minimal harm” and integrate novel concepts like “algorithmic bias” and “black box” into the research ethics framework.


  • Policing with AI

    From facial recognition tools for suspect identification to pattern recognition for financial crime, AI technologies can help law enforcement fight crime more efficiently. But what about ethics? Not taking seriously concerns such as algorithmic bias and extensive surveillance risks provoking a backlash that stifles these technologies and fails to help communities. In this talk, Canca shows avenues for developing and adopting public safety technologies in ethically responsible ways.


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