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Queen Mary secures £1.23 million for AI research from UKRI

Out of a staggering 19 initiatives funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Queen Mary University of London has secured a coveted spot among both the nine research hubs and the ten crucial scoping projects, receiving a substantial share of the £100 million investment in artificial intelligence (AI).

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With a combined £1.23 million grant, Queen Mary will conduct two research projects chosen for their transformative potential and commitment to responsible development.  

Queen Mary leads "CREAATIF" project to assess impact of AI on creative work, awarded as part of the AHRC BRAID Programme  

Professor David Leslie, Professor of Ethics, Technology, and Society at the Digital Environment Research Institute (DERI), and Dr Aoife Monks, Reader in Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies, School of English and Drama, and the Director of the new Queen Mary Centre for Arts, Culture, and Creative Collaboration (AC&C), lead CREAATIF, a project tackling the crucial issue of Generative AI's (GenAI) impact on creative industries. Funded with £275,000, it directly engages creative workers to assess impacts on their fundamental rights and working conditions in the face of these new technologies. The project fosters partnership between The Alan Turing Institute, University of the Arts London, and the Institute for the Future of Work, and crucial creative industry project partners, ensuring that diverse creative voices shape AI policy planning. 

Highlights of CREAATIF: 

  • Focus on GenAI's impact on creative work: Understanding the specific challenges and opportunities GenAI presents for creative professionals. 
  • Worker-centric approach: Empowering creative workers to shape the future of their industry through co-developed impact assessments. 
  • Building on established frameworks: Leveraging existing frameworks like the Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law Assurance Framework for AI Systems (HUDERIA), and the Good Work Algorithmic Impact Assessment (GWAIA) to ensure responsible and ethical AI development. 

Professor Leslie warns that the quick rush to market generative AI could threaten entire creative communities. "We urgently need to understand and mitigate these impacts, protecting the integrity of creative work," he emphasises. CREAATIF tackles this challenge by putting creators at the forefront, assessing the societal effects of GenAI with their direct input. By empowering them to shape their own digital future, we ensure opportunities for the artists of tomorrow to thrive and contribute to their communities." 

This is one of ten scoping projects funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UKRI, under the Bridging Responsible AI Divides (BRAID) Programme. 

Queen Mary contributes to "Mathematical foundations of intelligence: an ‘Erlangen Programme’ for AI"  

The second project, led by Professor Michael Bronstein (Oxford) with participation from Queen Mary's Dr Primoz Skraba, Dr Omer Bobrowski of School of Mathematical Sciences, and Dr Haim Dubossarsky of the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, takes a deep dive into the mathematical foundations of intelligence. This ambitious five-year project, receiving £964,000 for Queen Mary's contribution, aims to enhance AI methods using principles from geometry, topology, and probability. It integrates researchers from six institutions, including Imperial College London, Durham University, University of Southampton, and University of Aberdeen. The project delves into four fundamental questions: 

  • How can hidden structures in data be discovered and exploited by AI models using the language of geometry and topology? 
  • Can geometric, topological, and probabilistic tools help us understand when and how AI models work and fail? 
  • How can we guarantee learning benefits from these structures, leading to better, more efficient, and safer new models? 
  • Finally, how can we responsibly use such models in future autonomous AI systems that make decisions impacting potentially billions of people? 

Professor Andrew Livingston, Vice-Principal for Research and Innovation, said: "Queen Mary is deeply proud to be among the few institutions chosen for these highly competitive grants. Securing them reflects our unwavering commitment to responsible and impactful AI research. CREAATIF's focus on human-centric AI aligns perfectly with our values, while the Mathematical Foundations project has the potential to unlock groundbreaking advancements in the field. We are excited to contribute to these crucial endeavours and play a leading role in shaping the future of AI." 

Queen Mary's exceptional achievement in this competitive grant program underscores its dedication to being at the forefront of responsible AI development. These two projects represent a significant step forward, ensuring that AI benefits everyone and contributes to a more equitable and just society. 

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