Delivering responsible AI is central to achieving the digital good
Our Associate Director, Gina Neff, discusses the importance of delivering responsible AI in working towards the digital good. Published 26 June 2023.
The question of how to build good digital societies needs urgent attention, especially as companies continue to build and deploy products and services built on artificial intelligence technologies. Identified by the Government as a critical technology in the UK Science and Technology Framework, AI is a rapidly developing science and technology area with massive potential benefits to the economy and society. There remain many concerns about fairness, bias, transparency and public accountability on how AI is used in everyday products and services.
During this year’s London Tech Week, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) unveiled a suite of AI investments designed to connect the academic community and link research to industry. As part of this announcement package, £31 million has been awarded to a large consortium called Responsible AI UK (www.rai.ac.uk; RAI), led by the University of Southampton, that will create a UK and international research and innovation ecosystem for responsible and trustworthy AI that will be responsive to the needs of society.
I am chair of the strategy group for this consortium. Our work as a strategy group will involve leveraging partnerships, outputs, and research strengths of existing research investments across the UK, working to ensure that RAI includes the wider research community, and connecting the research community with other stakeholders across the UK and beyond.
The missions of the Digital Good Network and Responsible AI UK go hand-in-hand, and I’m excited to be involved in the work of both. Central to the Digital Good Network’s mission is to provide digital technology developers, companies and policymakers with the know-how to ensure technologies contribute to the public good.
The Responsible AI UK consortium will work closely with policymakers to provide evidence for future policy and regulation, as well as guidance for businesses in deploying AI solutions responsibly. Multidisciplinary teams of AI researchers will be able to explain the risks and opportunities of AI, beyond the hype. This will help ensure that digital technologies have positive outcomes, resulting in good digital societies.
The RAI’s activities will encompass large-scale research programs, collaborations between academics and businesses, skills programmes for the public and industry, and the publication of white papers outlining approaches for the UK and global AI landscape. Working with government, the RAI will identify needs for new standards, and build capacity for public accountability.
Having an open ecosystem of researchers, working on the opportunities, concerns and challenges around adopting AI at scale, will have greater impact than today’s atomised approach.
This will ensure responsible AI development in the UK, and help us deliver the digital good in society.
Find out more about the consortium: www.rai.ac.uk
About the author:
Professor Gina Neff is Associate Director of the Digital Good Network and the Executive Director of the Minderoo Centre for Technology & Democracy at the University of Cambridge. Her books include Venture Labor (MIT Press 2012), Self-Tracking (MIT Press 2016) and Human-Centered Data Science (MIT Press 2022). Her research focuses on the effects of the rapid expansion of our digital information environment on workers and workplaces and in our everyday lives.