The aim of the report is to gather relevant information important to understand a field, and to write it up for an audience, for example executives and leaders working in government, in business, or at NGOs or public institutions, who want to inform themselves about a topic.
The report should focus on one of the following topics discussing two case studies as examples:
a) the area of facial recognition
b) the area of automatising communication & social media c) the area of transport
d) the area of deepfakes
e) the area of algorithmic governance
f) an area of your own choice (contact the lecturers via email detailing your choice in a short paragraph).
Research and write up a report about the topic covering the usage of contemporary artificial intelligence by evaluating and comparing two cases. You need to use academic references in your report and clearly address an audience of your choice (business, government, NGOs).
Tip: You should draw on academic publications and link the cases to factual sources (news articles, reports, websites) which you reference (how to here).
What is a report?
- A report is a structured, balanced account given of a particular matter after thorough investigation or consideration using evidence and academic sources mirroring different aspects, opinions or sides. It is written for an audience. Reports inform governments or businesses. You can find an exemplary structure of a report at the end of this document.
- The style of writing in a report is usually less discursive than in an essay, with a more direct and economic use of language. However, a report uses referencing throughout and will have to provide an overview over academic debates and literature in the section ‘critical evaluation’.
- A report looks at a field/topic by listing relevant aspects & researching the status quo.
- Make sure to critically evaluate the case examples you are exploring; this is also the section where we expect you to use academic literature.
- A report ends with recommendations for your audience; they are often used in government or in business to help with decision making.
- Common shortcomings and mistakes include:
- Keep the audience in mind: A report informs executives in business or in government about the state of affairs in a field.
- No speculation and generalisation: We are interested in what is possible now, not in the future. Avoid speculating on what will happen in the future (an exception is if you can back up future predictions by facts or studies); also avoid generalisation (‘scholars have said…’ – instead list which scholars have said something). Write using evidence and reference your evidence; we are looking for facts, studies, reports.
- Lack of academic engagement: being overly descriptive with little suitable grounding of statements (‘quotes’) and little reference to literature, whether primary or secondary.
- Limited technical understanding: you need to explore and demonstrate your understanding of your technical example, and its underlying AI technology and data used.
- Limited personal research: Make sure to research relevant (!) information i.e., information that currently shapes the area you are looking at, not just general knowledge everyone has. Relevant information is often linked to detailed knowledge. Also keep in mind that even though we encourage you to explore one example in depth, it is good to research similar cases related to your example to get the whole picture.
- As always in academic writing, referencing is essential. Consider that most of the required readings for this module are intended to help students develop a basic understanding of the technical vocabulary as well as a critical understanding of central issues. Therefore, make sure you reference central technical key terms and academic arguments you will have identified while studying, whether these are primary sources such as technical documentations web posts by practitioners, “report-style” case studies, or academic publications.
- How your work is assessed:
- Structure and organization of your report
- Depth of your research and familiarity with the field
- Usage of relevant literature linked to your algorithmic function and ethical issue
- Case examples
- Quality of your arguments, reasoning and explanations
- Style of writing
- Academic referencing
IMPORTANT – READ THIS CAREFULLY
Example for structuring your report (this can be done differently but the two main parts should make up at least 50% of the word count of the report):
Table of Contents: Reports list the different chapters and/or headings together with the page numbers so the reader can find specific aspects easily.
Executive summary: Summarise the aim of the report. This must include which audience you will address and the key points of the report; also mention the cases you look at. (max 200 words)
Tip: Write it after finishing the main document and don’t rehash the introduction.
Introduction: What area will you be looking at? For which audience? Why is the area important for society? What is the chance but also the challenge here?
Background – AI technology: introduce the technology of machine learning or data analysis used in your area/examples including its key terms on a general level; reference academic literature, web pages and news articles.
Background – information about the area: introduce the area in which this technology will be deployed by explaining its scope and the expected impact of AI on this area; discuss the data being used to train AI if relevant; use statistics and official numbers to describe the area as well as the change to be expected.
Main part I: Case study of examples
- Presenting example A, who developed it and how it is supposed to function. Outline various aspects you deem important to mention.
- Presenting example B, who developed it and how it is supposed to function. Outline various aspects you deem important to mention.
- Compare and contrast the examples to conclude this section. Main part II:
- Critical evaluation including ethical issues arising (minimum 1,000 words)
- Critically discuss ethical issues that can be linked to both examples and explore in detail how they are being discussed in academic literature. Compare and contrast the positions of the authors.
Aspects of regulation: present how the area/examples you are discussing are currently being regulated; keep your audience in mind.
Summary of findings: summarise your findings in a paragraph naming the most important aspects you need for your recommendations
Recommendations: give briefly your own recommendations based on the summary of findings – what should be done about this
Useful non-academic websites featuring statistics that can be used as evidence:
Statista https://www.statista.com/ (get a free account; you will not have access to everything but it is still quite a bit) Pew Research Centre Internet & Technology http://www.pewinternet.org/ (A bit US centred but at times useful) Ofcom Research https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research
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