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Southampton leads £31m vision to build trust in AI

Southampton researchers will lead a major international project to help develop responsible and trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is having a growing influence on our society and experts say it will have a growing impact over the coming years. It has the potential to transform how healthcare is delivered.

The new project, known as Responsible AI UK (RAI UK), will support research to develop AI that improves lives.

The leadership team includes Professor Dame Wendy Hall from the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

Driving collaboration

Prof Dame Hall is a Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton (UoS) and lead for Data, Health and Society in the NIHR Southampton BRC.

Her role in RAI UK will focus on international partnerships. She said:

“AI will change the way we live and work for the better – but an interdisciplinary approach to regulation and safe AI is vital.

“The UK can become the dominant force for responsible and trustworthy AI with this investment.

“The work undertaken by the Responsible AI UK team and our partners will put the UK at the forefront of AI’s future for the good of humanity.”

Developing trust

RAI UK will fund multi-disciplinary research and work across academia, business, and the public sector.

Prof Gopal Ramchurn, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at UoS, is RAI UK’s principal investigator. He said:

“We don’t need to fear artificial intelligence. It won’t threaten humanity, but it has huge potential to influence how society operates in the future.

“AI should not only be technically safe and accountable, but its impact on its users, their wellbeing and rights, and the wider society needs to be understood for people to trust it.

“Our role in RAI UK will be to bring together experts from diverse disciplines and cultures from across the world to address the most pressing AI challenges in key sectors. We will help ensure that we all enjoy the productivity gains it promises to deliver."

World-leading tech

The funding boost is part of a series of investments in AI by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Technology Secretary Chloe Smith said:

"Despite our size as a small island nation, the UK is a technology powerhouse. Last year, the UK became just the third country in the world to have a tech sector valued at $1 trillion. It is the biggest in Europe by some distance and behind only the US and China globally.

"The technology landscape, though, is constantly evolving, and we need a tech ecosystem which can respond to those shifting sands, harness its opportunities, and address emerging challenges. The measures unveiled today will do exactly that.”

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