New Oxford AI hub to lead in transformative research

A new artificial intelligence (AI) research hub is to be based at the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science. 

The announcement follows the UK government’s AI regulation white paper consultation response. The response reaffirms the country’s commitment to becoming a global leader in AI technology and outlines the regulatory framework to be used in AI development and use.

The response to the consultation likewise highlights an ÂŁ80 million investment by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) into nine new AI research hubs across the UK. The EPSRC is part of UK Research and Innovation, a national funding agency that finances a wide range of research and science initiatives.

Three of the hubs, including the one at Oxford, will specialise in mathematics and computational research. This is to promote a better understanding of current AI models and advance the creation of more efficient AI systems. The other six will address AI’s role in science and engineering, thereby propelling forward the use of AI in various sectors such as energy and healthcare. 

Through cooperative and rigorous research, the hubs will help revolutionise the understanding and development of AI technology, especially as it becomes more integrated with the economy and society as a whole. The hubs have consequently taken on projects to facilitate safe and transformative AI research.  

Professor Michael Bronstein from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford will lead an “Erlangen Programme” for AI. The focus of the programme is using mathematical and algorithmic principles of AI to improve its methods. 

The programme fosters knowledge exchange and a collaborative environment, bringing together global leaders in a variety of fields and disciplines. For instance, mathematicians with expertise in geometry, topology, and probability will play a critical role in supporting the programme’s initiatives. 

The Oxford hub will feature both local and international experts. UK researchers involved in the programme come from the University of Aberdeen, Durham University, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London, and the University of Southampton. 

Oxford’s new hub is committed to providing instruction for a minimum of thirteen PhD students, thus providing training for future AI specialists. The students will be exposed to a multidisciplinary approach to AI, gaining exposure and knowledge in the different foundations and applications of AI and machine learning.

The research team is seeking to better understand existing AI models and promote safer, next-generation ones. The initiatives rising from the new hubs prioritise and support the safe and ethical development and use of AI.

With the upcoming AI Safety Summits in the Republic of Korea and France set to take place later this year, the UK is positioning itself to become a leader in AI technologies and governance. The establishment of these new hubs will help drive AI innovation in a manner that is conscious of the responsibility and ethics associated with these new technologies. 

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