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New humanities-led network will put social justice at the heart of AI research

Date: 05/02/2020

The Ada Lovelace Institute and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have today launched JUST AI, a network of researchers and practitioners, led by Dr Alison Powell from LSE, that will establish a multidisciplinary research base around ‘just AI’ - AI that is ethical, works for the common good and is effectively governed and regulated.

The humanities-led network will build on research in AI ethics, orienting it around practical issues of social justice, distribution, governance and design, and seek to inform the development of policy and practice.

The JUST AI network will connect researchers and practitioners from across philosophy, law, media and communications, human-computer interaction, ethnography, user-centred design, data science, computer sciences and social sciences. It will begin by mapping the landscape and identifying opportunities to join up research across disciplines. It will deliver a programme of activity to include workshops, written and creative outputs and peer-reviewed articles, and lay the foundations for future multidisciplinary research collaborations.  

Research and debate about the ethical and social risks and impacts of data and AI is often focussed on either abstract principles such as fairness, transparency and rights, or on purely technical approaches. In establishing the network, the Ada Lovelace Institute and the AHRC aim to create a common infrastructure for collaboration across disciplines that will connect these approaches and identify ways to translate evidence into practical guidance, regulation and design.

Dr Alison Powell will lead the JUST AI network, working closely with the Ada Lovelace Institute and the AHRC. Alison is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she was the inaugural programme director for the Data & Society programme stream of its MSc Media and Communications.

The JUST AI network will operate for one year in the first instance. Recruitment for a postdoctoral research officer to support the network is open until 12 February 2020.

Carly Kind, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute said:

“The JUST AI network will help ensure the development and deployment of AI and data-driven technologies serves the common good by connecting research on technical solutions with understanding of social and ethical values and impact.

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with the AHRC and with Dr Alison Powell, whose expertise in the interrelationships between people, technology and ethics make her the ideal candidate to lead the JUST AI network.”

Professor Edward Harcourt, Director of Research, Strategy & Innovation at UKRI Arts & Humanities Research Council said:

“There is no doubt that the development and use of Artificial Intelligence has the potential to transform our lives but in order for society to use and benefit from it, we need to be assured that AI technologies are being developed and deployed in responsible and ethical ways. This network is a vital step in the right direction towards achieving that, integrating expertise from across to understand and challenge the ethical and social risks and impacts of data and AI.”

Dr Alison Powell said:

I’m incredibly excited to take this opportunity. By looking at how ethics is practised, and connecting a range of disciplinary and practical perspectives, we can cut through the noise and start to make an influence in this area.”

About Ada Lovelace

The Ada Lovelace Institute (Ada) is an independent think tank and research institute dedicated to ensuring that data and AI work for people and society. Ada is funded by the Nuffield Foundation, an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance social well-being. Adalovelaceinstitute.org | @adalovelaceinst

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