AI Research Gets Chunk of £100m UK Government Funding

AI Research Gets Chunk of £100m UK Government Funding

The University of Sheffield has been awarded part of a £100 million government fund for new AI research aimed at building principles that encourage responsible use and deployment of the technology.

The funding is part of the UK government’s commitment to leading research in AI and its ethical deployment.

Under this fund, the university will be working on two projects that will define responsible AI usage in the cultural and public sectors.

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Leading in AI research

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation, and Technology, Michelle Donelan, announced on Tuesday, Feb. 6, the funding for AI research, which will provide insights into the use of AI.

According to the university’s blog article, the fund, which is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), will see the university carry out two projects. These will produce early research and recommendations that will be instrumental in future AI work and integration across key sectors in the country.

Dr. Joanna Tidy will lead the team at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Politics and International Relations. The team will investigate the responsible use of AI within the museum and heritage sectors, focusing on the relation to biases in AI that come from the colonial history of museum collections.

“Museums and heritage institutions are increasingly using AI tools such as Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and Machine Vision to enhance visitor interaction with their collections,” Dr. Tidy said, highlighting how AI is already being used in museums to improve visitor interactions.

She also noted that there are biases when it comes to the history of collections where algorithms are overlooking some details.

“However, a recognizable problem with AI is bias, including how AI algorithms reproduce skewed underlying data.

“For museums and heritage institutions, a challenge for responsible AI use lies in how underlying biases in museum collections, such as those rooted in colonial origins and histories, are reproduced through AI data processing and outputs,” she said.

Building principles for responsible AI

The second team on the £100 million fund will be led by Dr. Denis Newman-Griffis of the university’s Information School and Department of Philosophy. His team will work with organizations in the public, private, and third sectors to build learning values and principles for responsible AI use.

“This project will help us learn what ‘responsible artificial intelligence’ really means for teams and organizations dealing with the changing AI landscape today,” Dr. Newman-Griffis said.

Many members of the University of Sheffield spoke on the importance of responsible AI usage while highlighting how impactful the tool can be in day-to-day activities.

Other institutions engaged

Several other universities are also taking part in new AI research, where about nine hubs will be established to tackle issues around “combating cyber threats and delivering faster development of electronic devices and micro-chips.”

Other areas of interest will be the ethical use of AI and the legitimacy of the technology deployed by police departments. Another university will be responsible for “examining the ethical and moral tension arising between the concepts of creativity, authenticity, and responsibility.”

According to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), six out of the nine hubs will look at AI for science, engineering, and real-world data. This, according to the research institution, should provide the requisite tools and insights needed to accelerate AI innovations in the future, as well as enhance its applications in strategic areas such as healthcare.

The University of Bristol, Lancaster University, University College London, the University of Oxford, and New Castle University are also going to play a critical role in leading research in various aspects of AI.

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