IGF 2019 WS #379 Teach-in on different elements of voice technologies

Organizer 1: Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Kelly J. Davis, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Steve Penrod, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Josh Meyer, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Audrey Tang, Government, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: Iwan Lappo-Danilewski , Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

How can policy-making keep up with the speed of technological developments, notably in the emerging tech space? Which tools are available to ensure citizens’ and users’ rights are protected by these developments while not stifling future innovation?

Are there ways to adopt policies that approach the different components of voice-enabled connected devices, like voice assistants (think data, algorithms, software, and hardware), separately to allow for new, responsible, open developments?

Relevance to Theme: It won’t be long before people will access the majority of their online services through voice technology. The potential for future voice tech is huge -- also with a view to connecting the unconnected. However, it’s development is dependent upon the quality and diversity of voice data that is available and affordable to new incumbents. In addition, voice-based technologies raise questions about privacy, security, and who has access to, controls, processes, and governs that data.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Emerging technologies, and specifically connected devices such as voice assistants, are integral components to the future of the web -- and hence a pressing topic we need to get ahead on with regard to protecting user rights while fostering innovation. This requires expertise and understanding across all stakeholders.

Format: 

Break-out Group Discussions - Round Tables - 90 Min

Description: Voice recognition and analysis are becoming increasingly critical to the way we interact with our devices, and our physical space. However, the accessibility of voice technology depends on a number of factors, such as the diversity of voice data used for training, the privacy safeguards baked into the software, and the securing of microphones that are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in home-based assistance.

In this session, we will bring technologists, researchers, policymakers, and others together to help build a shared understanding of the technical and social issues involved in voice technology. There will be a short level-setting intro, where experts will facilitate a better understanding of voice technology components, such as access to data/information, speech to text, text to speech, and software-vs-hardware.

After this, the group will be broken up into subgroups for a facilitated ideation workshop on principles and policy tools. We will examine the technical challenges present in making ‘voice assistance’ and ‘language prediction tools’ a reality, as well as the ethical boundaries that must be considered when building voice technologies.

Lastly, each subgroup will have an opportunity to share back key insights with the larger group, which will develop into an identification of shared insights between the various subgroups.

Expected Outcomes: Development of a sophisticated knowledge base for participants. A lot of factors and consequences of voice technology are non-obvious, and this session will help policymakers understand the way voice technology components interact, allowing them to develop appropriate legislation.

Movement towards a consensus on guiding principles for responsible voice technology. By bringing together a multidisciplinary group in this session, we can build consensus on ethical principles for technology and policy development.

Identification of tools for informed policy-making on voice technology. The examination of what has and has not worked in adjacent policy and technology areas can help us build a roadmap of tools and procedures that have seen positive outcomes elsewhere.

Discussion Facilitation: 

Interaction and Participation will be facilitated during this session via several methods:

1: During the initial level-setting section, we will (informally) poll participants to develop an understanding of their familiarity with related policies/technologies/structures. This will lead to larger interactive discussions when an opportunity for education is identified.

2: After the group is split into subgroups, each group will be directly facilitated through participatory ideation exercises, dedicating time to allow participants to bring their own perspectives and experiences to the sub-group. This is facilitator-led, but participant-focused.

3: The IGF Online Participation Platform will allow for feedback and participation at several key points in the session, giving remote participants a unique opportunity to share their observations and experiences.

Online Participation: 

3: The IGF Online Participation Platform will allow for feedback and participation at several key points in the session, giving remote participants a unique opportunity to share their observations and experiences.

SDGs: 

GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure