19 Apr 2019

AI ethics programme blessed with over £200 million

Graduate students in the United Kingdom are to learn to develop “ethical” artificial intelligence with the help of the Church of England as part of a range of higher degrees in the technology supported by more than £200 million of public and industry funding.

By David Cowan

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The government will spend up to £110 million to allow 1,000 students to take doctorates focusing on various aspects of AI. The programme has attracted 11 companies including Cisco, BAE Systems and DeepMind, owned by Google, which will provide £78 million for 200 master’s degrees. The universities involved in the scheme will provide an extra £23 million.

The programme has been described as the first nationwide effort to address the skills gap within the AI industry. The doctoral places will be at 16 centres dedicated to research and innovation in AI. Five research fellowships will be created in partnership with the Alan Turing Institute in London.

The Church of England is among 30 organisations that will work with the University of Bath to “train a new generation of experts in accountable, responsible and transparent artificial intelligence”, looking at how the technology can be “ethically, safely and effectively deployed”.

The Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, director of mission and public affairs for the church, said: “AI has immense capacity for good, but raises many unanswered questions. It is vital that the world’s great ethical traditions, including the Christian tradition, are among the resources deployed to maximise the benefits for the common good and understand its moral and social dangers.”

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