Cambridge research centre puts people at the heart of AI

The Centre for Human-Inspired Artificial Intelligence (CHIA) brings together researchers from engineering and mathematics, philosophy and social sciences; a broad range of disciplines to investigate how human and machine intelligence can be combined in technologies that best contribute to social and global progress.

Anna Korhonen, Director of CHIA and Professor of Natural Language Processing, said: “We know from history that new technologies can drive changes with both positive and negative consequences, and this will likely be the case for AI. The goal of our new Centre is to put humans at the centre of every stage of AI development – basic research, application, commercialisation and policymaking – to help ensure AI benefits everyone.”

Artificial intelligence is a rapidly developing technology predicted to transform much of our society. While AI has the potential to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems in healthcare, education, climate science and economic sustainability it will need to embrace its human origins to become responsible, transparent and inclusive.

Per-Ola Kristensson, Co-director of CHIA and Professor of Interactive Systems Engineering, said: “For true progress and real-life impact it’s critical to nurture a close engagement with industry, policy makers, non-governmental organisations and civil society. Few universities in the world can rival the breadth and depth of Cambridge making us ideally positioned to make these connections and engage with the communities who face the greatest impact from AI.”

Designed to deliver both academic and real-world impact, CHIA seeks partners in academic, industrial, third-sector and other organizations that share an interest in promoting human-inspired AI.

John Suckling, Co-director of CHIA and Director of Research in Psychiatric Neuroimaging, said: “Our students will be educated in an interdisciplinary environment with access to experts in the technical, ethical, human and industrial aspects of AI. Early-career researchers will be part of all our activities. We are committed to inclusivity and diversity as a way of delivering robust and practical outcomes.”

CHIA will educate the next generation of AI creators and leaders, with dedicated graduate training in human-inspired AI.

Professor Mark Girolami from the Department of Engineering, said: “As artificial intelligence becomes increasingly pervasive, it’s critical to align its development with societal interests. This new University-wide Centre will explore a human-centric approach to the development of AI to ensure beneficial outcomes for society. Cambridge’s depth of expertise in AI and a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration make it an ideal home for CHIA.”

Apart from research and education, the CHIA will also host seminars, public events and international conferences to raise awareness of human-inspired AI. Forums will be convened around topics of ethical or societal concern with representation from all stakeholders.

Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: “If we’re to ensure that AI works for everyone and does not widen inequalities, then we need to place people at its heart and consider the societal and ethical implications alongside its development. Cambridge, with its ability to draw on researchers across multiple disciplines, is uniquely positioned to be able to lead in this area.”

Neil Lawrence, DeepMind Professor of Machine Learning, added: “Artificial intelligence is provoking new questions in our societies. It’s vital that we deliver the answers in a people-centric manner. The Centre in Human-Inspired AI will provide a new interdisciplinary hub that delivers the solutions for these challenges.”

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