AI ethics and regulation to be revolutionised with £8.5m investment

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) revealed the UK’s first key research program on AI ethics and regulation.

AI ethics and regulation: Answering some of the biggest questions posed by AI

A novel research program has been published that will lead to researchers collaborating with both industry and policymakers, in order to tackle some of the biggest ethical questions posed by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The program intends to improve the public’s trust and ensure that the UK remains at the global forefront of the research, development, and deployment of AI technology. Scientists have noted that this will be the first program of its scale in the UK and will inform the ethical development and utilisation of AI.

The ‘Enabling a Responsible AI Ecosystem’ program

The program (ERAE) is led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) – part of UK Research and Innovation – and is presented in partnership with the Ada Lovelace Institute.

AI is unlocking enormous advantages across our economy and society, however, with this comes unforeseen and enhanced risks. Thus, building trust is crucial in ensuring the AI industry can thrive and its technology can benefit people’s lives.

This program will help build public confidence by fostering the growth of a responsible and ethical AI ecosystem informed by outstanding, trusted research.

ERAE will enable development in how responsible and ethical approaches to AI technologies are applied to positively transform commercial, business-led, and public-facing endeavours.

It will move ahead of AI ethics frameworks, creating recommendations and utilising cases that can be put into practice for a range of AI applications, including:

  • Biometrics and facial recognition;
  • Big data analytics in the financial sector; and
  • Diagnostics in healthcare.

Utilising the knowledge of researchers and innovators

Harnessing the expertise of scientists and visionaries from a range of disciplines, from the humanities to computer science, the program will involve diverse perspectives to tackle these complex ethical challenges.

“From facial recognition to big data used in the financial sector, ‘deep fake’ videos to ‘tailored’ adverts on social media, AI has become embedded in our daily lives. However, this prevalence has raised a number of questions about the ethical impact of such data-driven technologies,” explained Dr Allan Sudlow, AHRC Director of Partnerships and Engagement.

“Ethics and accountability cannot and must not be an afterthought in the design and development of AI. This programme will work in partnership with the Ada Lovelace Institute and industry, government, and regulators to add new insight and perspectives to this area.

“This important investment announced today will harness the UK’s existing strengths across multiple sectors and disciplines to ensure the AI technologies of the future are utilised responsibly and ethically across our society and industry.”

“We are delighted to be partnering with AHRC on this major new research programme to ensure that AI works for people and society,” added Carly Kind, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute. “There is a real opportunity for the UK research community, in collaboration with policymakers and industry, to lead the way in developing a responsible AI ecosystem.

“We will be working with AHRC and an appointed Programme Director to define and shape the programme strategy, identify and amplify diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives, engage with the existing ecosystem and influence policy and practice.”

“To truly realise the transformative benefits of AI, we need to build a world-leading ecosystem to ensure that these technologies develop in a way that earns public trust,” concluded Edwina Dunn, Chair of the Centre for Data Ethics, and Innovation.

“A strong research environment will help to ensure that the UK can continue to make rapid progress in achieving the benefits of responsible AI. We look forward to working with the academic community to achieve ethical and responsible approaches to AI.”

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