A six-year project led by the University of Edinburgh has been launched by the University of Edinburgh to develop solutions for the responsible use of artificial intelligence.

The £2.4m initiative will address a range of AI-related challenges in industry, public organisations and the third sector through a series of fellowships.

The Fellows, appointed from universities across the UK, will apply research expertise from humanities and arts including data ethics, copyright law, digital design and qualitative analysis to address questions around the responsible use of AI.

The Bridging Responsible AI Divides (BRAID) Fellowships are part of the BRAID programme. BRAID is led by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the Ada Lovelace Institute and the BBC. The £15.9 million, six-year programme is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI).

Each Fellow, numbering 17 in all, will partner with an organisation from the public, private or third sector to unite expertise for tackling existing, new or emerging AI challenges.

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Partners from the technology sector include Adobe, Datamind Audio, Diverse AI, Mozilla Foundation and Microsoft.

Project partners from regulatory and public organisations include Ada Lovelace Institute, The Alan Turing Institute, the BBC, Institute for the Future of Work and the Public Media Alliance.

Elsewhere, fellows will be working with arts and cultural institutions including the Arts Council England, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Serpentine Galleries, and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

The Herald: Artificial intelligence

The collaborative projects will address questions, including examining approaches for the use of generative AI in the media, exploring the societal and ethical factors shaping the adoption of AI in a medical setting, developing a responsible AI innovation framework for the arts and culture sector, and supporting the needs of creatives when using AI.

Other collaborations will research the complex issue of copyright and generative AI in creative and cultural industries, including the impact of generative AI on writing novels, exploring the creation and ownership of AI-generated sounds, and examining the impact of generative AI in publishing.

AHRC Executive Chair Professor Christopher Smith said: “The impact of AI can already be felt in many areas of our lives. It will transform our jobs and livelihoods, and impact on areas as diverse as education, policing and the creative industries. It is vital that we ensure its responsible development and use.

“The BRAID fellowships announced today will play an invaluable role informing the practice and tools crucial to ensuring this transformative technology is used responsibly to provide benefits for all of society.”

Project leads at the University of Edinburgh said the Fellowships will support the creation of an AI ecosystem which will enable researchers and industry and public sector leaders to develop a deeper understanding of AI and its challenges and opportunities.  

BRAID Co-director Professor Ewa Luger, Chair in Human-Data Interaction at Edinburgh College of Art, said: “The 17 Fellowships offer opportunities for deeper relationships and joint impact, moving towards a genuine embedding of arts and humanities knowledge within how we think about, develop and deploy AI in practice and in the world.

"It is our hope that with these connections, and working towards common challenges across sectors and diverse communities, we will take substantial strides towards a more responsible AI ecosystem."

BRAID Co-director Professor Shannon Vallor, Baillie Gifford Chair in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence at the Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI), said: “We are reaching a critical point in society where businesses and the public sector recognise that deploying AI systems safely and responsibly requires new kinds of knowledge and expertise, which can be challenging to access - the BRAID fellowships aim to bring together researchers with industry and the public sector to help bridge that divide between technical capability and the knowledge of how to use it wisely and well, to ensure that the benefits of AI are realised for the good of us all."