Bristol University to host two national AI research hubs 

Two new AI research hubs at Bristol University are set to investigate collective intelligence and the potential for different AIs to work together.

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The AI for Collective Intelligence (AI4CI) hub will develop new AI technologies seeking to harness information that is distributed across entire populations and devices, tapping into the ‘hive mind’ of humanity. This process already occurs naturally through the everyday sharing of information, but AI4CI will seek to supercharge it, analysing patterns that could be useful across sectors ranging from healthcare to cybersecurity.

“Our Hub's main aim is to put useful AI in the hands of regular people, especially those who might otherwise not benefit from it,” said AI4CI director Professor Seth Bullock, the Toshiba Chair in Data Science at Bristol University.

“Modern AI is driven by huge amounts of data collected from us and Collective Intelligence research is about enabling us to benefit directly from the AI systems that data fuels. We can’t wait to get started.”

The second of the two new hubs, known as INFORMED-AI, will explore if multiple interacting AIs generate greater intelligence and improved performance. Tools that the INFORMED-AI team will use include machine learning, cybersecurity, statistics, and quantum systems, exploring the most effective ways to manage large datasets and different AI models.

“This research will not only help to address our current concerns about integrating AI technologies, but the fundamental mathematical work will be applicable to research that follows,” said INFORMED-AI director Sidharth Jaggi, Professor of Information and Coding Theory at Bristol University.

The Bristol hubs are among nine in total nationwide, backed by £80m of funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Three of the nine will be dedicated to progressing mathematics and computational research crucial to AI, while the remaining six will explore AI for science, engineering, and real-world data. In addition to its two AI hubs, Bristol will also be home to Isambard-AI, the UK’s latest supercomputer.

“AI is transforming the world we know, performing vital roles ranging from combating cyber threats to improving energy efficiency,” said Professor Evelyn Welch, vice-chancellor and president of Bristol University. “These new national hubs will discover and develop exciting breakthroughs in diverse fields, which touch our everyday lives. It is fitting two of the hubs will be based at Bristol, as we’re also excited to be welcoming Isambard-AI, the UK’s most powerful supercomputer, this summer.”