To that end, Professor Matt Jones of Swansea University’s Computational Foundry has been awarded a five-year Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) fellowship to pursue an AI research agenda.
While many people say they feel worried and helpless when thinking about the impact of AI on their everyday lives and livelihoods, Professor Jones’ fellowship seeks to develop ‘inclusive and empowering’ interactive AI systems for everyone.
Jones said the research aims to re-orientate away from systems that may lead to people feeling powerless, redundant and undervalued, instead turning towards approaches that let people experience joy, creativity, connection and agency as they use AI innovations to amplify their innate abilities, qualities and values.
The approach, coined Everyone Virtuoso Everyday (EVE), focuses on developing AI technology for meaningful and skilful interactions, similar to a virtuoso musician pouring their entire self into their instrument, and aims to provide tools that can be used in people’s daily lives.
“There is a lack of diversity in those involved in imagining the AI tech-future,” said Jones. “With my team, I will work intensively with people who are not usually involved in AI discovery and innovation - people with lower socioeconomic opportunities in the UK and those in Global South communities such as the informal settlements in India, Kenya, Brazil and South Africa.”
The goal is to bring their lived experiences into the design and development process, enhanced through the involvement of a diverse set of technology, service provision and creative partners including Microsoft Research, BBC R&D, the NHS, HSBC and Swansea Council.
In doing so, the aim is to discover new ways for people everywhere, whatever their contexts and opportunities, to engage with AI systems.
The EPSRC has awarded Jones £1.83m to support the fellowship, which will begin on April 1, 2024.
“I am delighted and honoured to receive this fellowship,” said Jones. “While many think AI will out-pace or out-smart humans, I am convinced there is a timely and urgent need to think about how to radically amplify, celebrate and enable ‘natural intelligences’ – everyday people - rather than to replace them with artificial ones.”