Sometimes we forget the humans behind the tech in our ever busy world. DSF is fortunate enough to know some incredible tech leaders across the world and has the privilege of hearing them present at our events. That being said, our Speaker Spotlight sets the stage to get to know our speakers on a more personal level and connect them with our growing community. Read the mini interview below!
A bit about Ben:
Ben Byford has spent 15 years designing, developing, talking, teaching and writing on technology subjects. He currently works as a AI Ethics consultant (https://ethicalby.design/) and speaker after founding his podcast The Machine Ethics podcast in 2016 (www.machine-ethics.net). He is also the principle games designer at Nuclear Candy Games (https://www.nuclearcandygames.com/).
How did you start out in your tech career?
I got my first lucky break in tech a year after university. I had been dabbling in website design with Adobe Flash and was familiar with Photoshop and Illustrator thanks to my interest in design and music (a lot of band posters). I applied for a web design job, and they gave me the opportunity on the proviso that I had to learn how to code my designs… I never looked back. Coding in general has been hugely liberating to me in my professional life and for my own creativity.
What are the signs of success in your field?
I often straddle many fields from games, to AI and web. So success can look different, but I guess, for me it’s being able to make meaningful contributions. I hope that people have been interested in and helped by some of the things I’ve done so far.
What is the best and worst thing about your job role?
I often do a lot of context switching. I can be designing something on pen a paper, developing, talking with clients about technical features, or working on materials relating to ethical principles and how they relate to real world instances of a service… Sometimes this can fry your brain a bit. I’m trying to find a happy place where I don’t wear myself out too much.
What can you advise someone just starting out to be successful?
Don’t worry about success, you’re likely spend most of your life in some sort of work, try and make that work meaningful to you, and hopefully others.
How do you switch off?
I play an instrument, go skateboarding / climbing, or play with my two children. Switching off is hard for me, so having some forced daddy time has been useful.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn to code earlier, learn a language (I’ve been learning Japanese….slowly), and you can’t do everything.
What is next for you?
I’m currently trying to work out what the industry needs from the individuals selling AI Ethics consultancy to find my niche. Back in 2015, when I started down this road, Machine Learning was gaining traction and ethics wasn’t really an associated aspect yet. Fast forward and now we have whole conferences on the subject. However, it seems to me that most companies are struggling to wake up to the impacts of their products still, as well as the possible processes they could be deploying to help mitigate. I want to help in this practical way, as well as continue spreading the word and educating on the value of ethics in the tech sector.
If you could do another job now, what would you do? Why?
I love what I’m doing right now. I just hope it keeps growing and doing well so that I can bring more amazing people to help me.
What are your top 5 predictions in tech for the next 5 years?
– Blockchain technologies get less energy hungry and can be confidently used (and probably be called something else )
– We can combine AI systems for Inference and deduction to create more accurate systems
– We finally get automated cars for inner cites
– We wake up to our global situation and are able to curtail the right wing patriotism indicative of a past century
– We work on more meaningful problems in the world using AI technologies, not more ways to get people to buy things
Thank you to all our wonderful speakers for taking part in our Speaker Spotlight!
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