Acquired through experience, our habit-reliant, pre-reflective intelligence normally plays a vitally important role in our ethical lives. When discussed, we typically hear about anticipated harms and benefits, or about the extent to which a given tool improves our capacity to engage in ethical deliberation. Very little is said about the impact of data-intensive technologies on our ability to modify the deeply-rooted habits that stem from our increased technological dependence.

This in person event encourages cross-disciplinary reflection on the type of interventions likely to address the often-neglected role of the habitual in our ethical lives. Whether they bear on the design of legal institutions or data-intensive technologies, specific design choices can result in fostering, rather than hindering, our habit-dependent, pre-reflective intelligence.

About the event

During the discussion, you will hear from a cross-disciplinary panel who will consider the challenges inherent in taking on board the significance -and fragility- of our pre-reflective agency within all the value-loaded aspects of our lives.

It’s not just the debate surrounding legal institutions that suffers from ‘wilful neglect’ when it comes to their roots in and impact on pre-reflective agency. Much of the debate on data-intensive technologies is also shrunk to concerns about the preservation of deliberative autonomy, all the while ignoring pernicious effects on the integrity of our pre-reflective agency.

If ‘habitual ethics’ is to remain a live possibility, rather than some dangerous form of ideology, we each have a role to play, whether through pro-active citizenry, institutional modifications or system design intervention.


17:45 – Event opens

18:00 – In conversation with...

  • Professor Sylvie Delacroix, Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Birmingham and Turing Fellow.
  • Professor Neil Lawrence, Deep Mind Professor of Machine Learning, University of Cambridge and Senior AI Turing Fellow.
  • Dr Emran Mian, Director General of Decentralisation and Growth, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
  • Dr David Leslie, Director of Ethics and Responsible Innovation Research at The Alan Turing Institute. 

Chaired by Timandra Harkness, Presenter, writer and comedian.

19:30 – Networking reception 

20:30 – Event ends 

Register now

This event is of interest to all those concerned with the environment that shapes our pre-reflective intelligence, but we welcome participation from all backgrounds.


Dr David Leslie

Director of Ethics and Responsible Innovation Research, The Alan Turing Institute



Wellcome Collection

183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE

51.525994048544, -0.13402462005615