InnoKOL | Salema Veliu:Education + Consideration (ethics) + Transparency + Theory = Actionable Solutions

2021/04/19 Innoverview Read

On April 19th (GMT+8), InnoKOL had a fascinating conversation with Ms. Salema Veliu, who is a IEEE Technology and Wellbeing Speaker & Coach & Author to share her unique working experience, insights, and approach on how to consciously coexist with technology in the age of AI.


Jokia: How would you describe yourself in three words?


1. Rebel (Unconventional) - Adaptable to changing directionality and approaching things with both a conventional mindset (when needed) and unconventional ideas and pairings to drive specific points (when needed). I believe that we all need to move away from boxed conformist mindsets when looking at solutions to future problems. Our environment has changed therefore our mindset, culture, economics, and structures the way we do things needs to align with human evolvement in a technological world.

2. Truth-Seeker/Blazer/Philosopher - Always questioning everything and staying open to all perspectives from all disciplines.

3. Dedicated - Commitment and loyalty to projects, topics, causes and people.


Jokia: What’s your motto?

Salema: “In every moment anything is possible.”


Jokia: Can you please share more about your educational and professional background? And what brought you to technology and the wellbeing domain?


My journey started from a corporate burnout in my 30’s that caused me to find a different lifestyle that would benefit my mental and physical health. As Yoga became part of my treatment/healing journey so did my fascination with the connection between the mind, body and behavior. So much so that l then went onto train as a professional Yoga & Meditation Teacher and Yoga Therapist in London, New York, LA, Thailand which then became my business. During this time l was also introduced to Coaching with the HANDEL GROUP IN NYC by one of my teachers Elena. Brower. A pivotal moment that leads me at 48 heading off to University of Cambridge to gain a professional/academic recognized qualification in Coaching which was heavily unpinned by psychological foundations (which coaching is built upon). Another factor that has unpinned my whole journey of wanting to learn more about our computational side and our neural networks was living through a 9-year journey of dementia and Alzheimer’s with my mother. I then stayed on at Cambridge to complete a foundational degree/certificate in Experimental Psychology which was heavily based in Neuropsychology and Computational Neuroscience. Giving a different understanding of how we navigate and interact with the world around us from a western scientific perspective. During this time l was still teaching yoga while studying. And started to see how by using both the east and western fields of science and philosophy could be useful and essential when working with the paradigms of Human Interaction – in a tech and non-tech environment.


-After finishing at CAM l briefly went onto the BIRK to study a full psych degree part of the curriculum focused on robotics and ai (which totally fascinated me). This is when my life completely changed after attending an AI and Robotics lecture with Prof Robert Fisher (originally in the former Department of Artificial Intelligence) Edinburgh University. I immediately resonated and shared his concern on the impact and directionality of emerging technology on society. Since then, l've become fascinated with understanding individuals and their psychosocial and technology needs and preferences. An evolving Tech Ethicist fascinated in exploring the impact of tech from an ethical, legal, emotional and behavioral perspective. My motivational approach in networking and building strategic and effective relationships across different sectors has definitely resulted in me becoming an active participant in the AI Ethics community; academic associations, governing groups, and bodies. Resulting in various opportunities to work on translating and presenting the next generation of ideas, development, and implementation of emerging technologies. Providing clear messaging and examples of phenomena that are often falsely conflated with AI and Digital Transformation.

-My skills, knowledge and experience in the current Digital Ethics and AI debate and discussion in the UK come from continually studying and being active in International & Public Policy Development – UN Internet Governance Forum MAG for High Level Multi Stake Holders Consulting on the Roadmap for Digital cooperation – Office of the Tech Envoy, Internet Governance, United Nations. Reflecting engagement with senior public policy and business leaders at board and CEO level Interest in current issues and trends in Digital Ethics, Data Ethics and AI. Having foundational skill sets and understanding in Technology; Coding, AI, DL, ML, Behavioral Science, Mental Health and Philosophy l feel is a great asset as it allows me to understand the different sides of the equation; tech, business and ethics. I am passionate about raising public awareness around the legal and societal implications of future technology. My work has appeared in various media including; featured Psychologies Dossier Expert in Psychologies magazine, BBC, Local London Radio, Podcasts. Along with presenting at global academic, educational & psychological conferences and forums. Including co-hosting a panel at the 2020 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS).


-I remember having a couple of meetings with the director of the Inst of continuing education at Cambridge University 3 years ago now on: 1 – how the subject, type and delivery of degree/ courses should be offered to reflect the changing landscape and skills and knowledge would be helpful in an emerging world of technology. And 2 - how education options and structures were changing and being offered via such platforms such as coursera, future learn, edx to make degrees more accessible and affordable and in topics we all need to know like coding! Topics such as; digital transformation, AI Ethics, Coaching Technology, the neuroscience of wellbeing (all of which l presented on). I’ll say it again as l’m always saying; Covid just highlighted what was already becoming broken and outdated with education being no exception. Technology makes learning far more practicable, accessible and affordable covid and non-covid. Obviously for certain subjects there is/will be a need to work out how students can get into a non-virtual lab for practical experience so a need for physical spaces will remain but l feel will look very different moving forward. Tech gives us the ability to study and connect but should also be balanced with real in person inter-action so we don’t become over reliant or lose our social skills. Prices need to be revised for sure.

Jokia: Responsible AI should not be viewed strictly as a defensive maneuver—but also as a source of value. How to bridge the Responsible AI gap between theory to real from your perspective and experience?


Education, consideration (Ethics), transparency and then theory to action. To do this we need a flexible approach and mindset. Meaning we have to realize that we are no longer able to look at our progression through a lunar lens. Yes we should look back to reassess our values around what we class as fundamental ethics and morals but also at the same time ask ourselves what is ethical and moral in todays world, realizing that it isn’t fixed it is in the now. Creating a space and inviting people from multi-disciplinary fields (not just the elite) in this movement towards all inclusive and Holistic frameworks by considering measuring wellbeing metrics is key in really determining what could be the right action, what could be the right outcomes and how we each participate in that.


-Automation and AI are both bringing value to business and work. However, to bridge the gap between responsible ai to everyday reality there needs to be more information/education made available for the public and transparency and accountability between governments, tech giants and the public. We all need a voice in deciding the directionality of humanity. More education and information on the differences and meanings of automatization, digital transformation and ai as they are related but not the same. One could say there is still a lot of misinformation out there.


-At the end of the day we should always be asking why are creating x , how can it help us be more efficient but also what are the dangers/pitfalls? And just because we can does it mean we should. Humans are great inventors but sometimes we can get a bit carried away. The ultimate aim is to find ways of how we consciously coexist alongside emerging technology which is the topic of my forthcoming book.

Jokia: As AI, augmented reality, VR, and blockchain continue to emerge as powerful forces reshaping the way we live and work, how do you think the emerging technologies is affecting the creative economy?


A good example in answer to your question is currently there is a lot of debate around the growing of Digital only Artwork which has been around for years but now has many saying this is the future for artists. Prompted in part by a piece of digital artwork by the artist Michael Winkleman whose piece recently sold for $69 million at Christies. The digital reality of this direction saw an increase of 299% in 2020 worth around $250 million dollars. It is another form of expression that artists can use which some say provide more sovereignty. Giving more possibilities for the artists to earn a good income while at the same time having more control of their work. As the NFTs are tracked on blockchains to provide the owner with a proof of ownership that is separate from copyright. To own a piece of digital artwork you receive a NFT (non fungible token) mostly part of the Ethereum blockchain and are the latest cryptocurrency phenomenon to go mainstream. NFT’s currently represents anything digital be it an image, drawing, gif., music, magazine column, and even a tweet. However, it is also worth remembering that the computation-heavy processes associated with proof-of-work blockchains, the type primarily used for NFTs, require high energy inputs that are contributing to global warming.


Jokia: We noticed that you are one of the famous speakers in global leading conferences, what your benchmark to select the top-tier industrial events?


Basically, I’m waiting to be asked! But seriously l have to feel that the event/organization understands my background/journey and work and if that will complement their current topics and also show how different approaches to the same cause may give another perspective. 

About the speaker:

Ms. Salema Veliu is a Tech Ethicist, emerging technologies and policy program researcher, thought leadership & strategic consultant on digital human rights and responsible AI as well as a author with a forthcoming book. Her interest in the impact of technology on health and AI Ethics stems from working in the wellness industry for over two decades along with studying Psychology, Robotics and AI at Cambridge and BirkBeck University of London. 

About the MC:

Ms. Jokia Yin is the Founder of Innoverview and InnoKOL,  the Vice Chatiman of HK International Blockchain Finance Association as well as the Head of Media at United States of America-China Chamber of Commerce。 Jokia has over 8 years of marketing and management experience, much of which has been in the Asia Pacific Region within events and PR industry. She has held key leadership roles executing market research and entry, developing sales channels and revenue generation, building marketing, finance and Operations related infrastructure for a more than 20 events related to retail, tourism, energy storage, blockchain, cosmetics domains.