The next meeting of Talking Allowed in Leeds is on Monday 13th of November at 1.45pm. The venue is Veritas Ale and Wine Bar, Great George Street, Leeds.

We will consider the questions raised by developments in robotics, artificial intelligence and ‘big data’.

Will the investment required to roll out these technologies be forthcoming? If so, what will be the consequences for employment, economic equality and political power?

As well as almost daily articles in the press on this issue, the House of Lords have conducted a consultation. The questions they invited the public to consider can be found here:

In December our meeting will take place on the second Monday as usual but it will be a social gathering during which we hope to garner topic suggestions for meetings in 2018.


(From the House of Lords public consultation document.)

The pace of technological change

1. What is the current state of artificial intelligence and what factors have contributed to
this? How is it likely to develop over the next 5, 10 and 20 years? What factors, technical or societal, will accelerate or hinder this development?

2. Is the current level of excitement which surrounds artificial intelligence warranted?

Impact on society

3. How can the general public best be prepared for more widespread use of artificial
In this question, you may wish to address issues such as the impact on everyday life, jobs, education and retraining needs, which skills will be most in demand, and the potential need for more significant social policy changes. You may also wish to address issues such as the impact on democracy, cyber security, privacy, and data ownership.

4. Who in society is gaining the most from the development and use of artificial
intelligence and data? Who is gaining the least? How can potential disparities be

Public perception

5. Should efforts be made to improve the public’s understanding of, and engagement
with, artificial intelligence? If so, how?


6. What are the key sectors that stand to benefit from the development and use of
artificial intelligence? Which sectors do not?
In this question, you may also wish to address why some sectors stand to benefit over others, and what barriers there are for any sector looking to use artificial intelligence.

7. How can the data-based monopolies of some large corporations, and the ‘winner-takes-all’ economies associated with them, be addressed? How can data be managed
and safeguarded to ensure it contributes to the public good and a well-functioning


8. What are the ethical implications of the development and use of artificial intelligence?
How can any negative implications be resolved?
In this question, you may wish to address issues such as privacy, consent, safety, diversity and the impact on democracy.

9. In what situations is a relative lack of transparency in artificial intelligence systems (so-called ‘black boxing’) acceptable? When should it not be permissible?

The role of the Government

10. What role should the Government take in the development and use of artificial
intelligence in the United Kingdom? Should artificial intelligence be regulated? If so,

Learning from others

11. What lessons can be learnt from other countries or international organisations (e.g.
the European Union, the World Economic Forum) in their policy approach to artificial

PIP’s National Coordination Committee (NCC) are planning a Community Philosophy Festival, which will take place in Oxford in April 2018. A weekend event, from Friday through Sunday morning.

The main accommodation will be at Hertford College, as will majority of festival. Cost for weekend accommodation is approximately £160.

There will be a fifty seater coach for members from the North West, probably leaving Preston, picking up in Southport if required, calling at Liverpool, arriving in Oxford around 4pm. Return fare will be around £45 per head. People are free to travel with us and organise their own accommodation.

Proposed Programme

Friday: On arrival registration/check in, bags in rooms, then gather together in one of Hartford’s wood panelled rooms to look at and discuss weekend programme. Dinner, and then free time and/or visiting local sites.

Saturday: (Breakfast: 8am) 9.30am: Talk/discussion regarding underlying idea and principles of PIPs, and community philosophy in general. 10.30 tea break. 11am: Group organising and facilitation workshop, and sharing experiences. 12.30pm Lunch. 1.45pm: Enquiry session/s following short video about the problems arising within group facilitation. 2.15 Break. 2.30: Talk on ‘Philosophic Dialogue’ followed by discussion and group enquiry session/s. 4.30pm: Free time. 5.30pm Dinner (eating out maybe)
Saturday evening… visiting local hostelries … and Live (in house) music and song

Sunday: (Breakfast: 8am) 9.30am: A philosophical tour of Oxford and maybe one or two enquiries throughout the day around the cafes and bookshops of Oxford. 12.30am: Lunch and review at a topical venue. Festival to finish around 4pm giving people time to explore Oxford, while those catching return coach to Liverpool and North West will leave a little earlier.

If you are interested or would like to book a place email: or ring 07743 533 509

The next meeting of Talking Allowed in Leeds is on Monday 9th of October at 1.45pm. The venue is Veritas Ale and Wine Bar, Great George Street, Leeds.

Ian will introduce the discussion by asking “Are there reasons to be cheerful?”‘

As political and economic crises proliferate internationally (climate change, nuclear standoff) and nationally (housing, health) and proffered solutions prove ineffective, or worse, has philosophy anything to offer us? In troubled times must the individual remain politically involved? Or can only stoical detachment save one’s sanity?

The next meeting of Talking Allowed in Leeds is on Monday 10th of July at 1.45pm. The venue is Veritas Ale and Wine Bar, Great George Street, Leeds.

We are discussing the connection between popular music and its social and political roots. Rik will introduce the topic by looking at jazz and blues

What is your music and what was happening in the wider society which gave rise to it? If you want Rik to play a short extract of a track to illustrate your choice, let me know. Rik will be bringing along a portable player.

This is the topic held over from July which was cancelled due to Veritas being closed for refurbishment.

David Whalley writes:-

The DiPs (Discussion in Pubs) in Staffordshire & Cheshire have given repeated attention to “Artificial Intelligence” and “Robotics” in recent times.  On the RWF Facebook page & Padlet there have been references to the effects that ever more sophisticated information technology may be having on our democracy.

The House of Lords has recently established a Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence .  Their first public consultation is currently under way.  It touches on topics probably close to the heart of many involved in the RWF, PiPs & DiPs.  The consultation form is a masterpiece of DiP questions – pages 2 & 3 – .  These require almost no editing to produce a pub-ready page of questions.

Although public consultation ends 6 September, is there a case for drawing this questionnaire’s existence to all organisers of PiPs & DiPs for early inclusion in their Draft Autumn Programmes; with each circle’s participants choosing the questions that they wished to focus on?  I would say “yes”.

Is there any mechanism for the RWF to make a collective response, especially on the references to public education and / or effects of AI on democracy?

Assuming that it is impossible to meet the consultation deadline, could it still be a worthwhile exercise to encourage discussion circles to engage with these topics and to warn the Select Committee to expect a late response due to us being a network of voluntary, community organisations who generally take a summer break?  Again, I would say “yes”.

Paul Doran replies:-

As with DiPs, PIPs too have discussed this topic over recent years. The consultation text looks ideal as a discussion document. I agree there’s a case for informing all group organisers, etc, for the reasons you mention (education / democracy) plus others. That there’s a Select Committee looking into the question is no doubt a motivating factor, but personally moves me less than the idea that we (Dips/PIPs/RWF) organise open discussions with the express idea of pulling together, and correlating the collective thoughts and findings of each group into some kind of general assessment.