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Vision and challenges

The pan-university Surrey Institute for People-Centred AI brings together world-leading AI and domain expertise across the University to realise and shape AI impact for public good.

Our vision

Our vision is for the University of Surrey to become the national centre of excellence in people-centred AI research, training and innovation, and its application for the benefit of society.

Surrey Institute for People-Centred AI

Our Institute brings together Surrey’s core AI-related expertise in vision, speech and signal processing, computer science, and mathematics, with its domain expertise across engineering and the physical sciences, human and animal health, law and regulation, business, finance and the art and social sciences.

The pan-university institute will be spearheaded by a group of academics with a passion for collaboration and co-creation, and a strong vision for people-centred AI. With this distinctive approach, the academic team will build on Surrey’s excellent track record of collaboration with industry, the public sector, government and other relevant institutions to develop innovative ideas and foster new research directions.

Taking a different approach to much AI activity in the UK, our Institute puts the needs of individuals and society at the very heart of everything it does: We believe that the starting point for AI should be people rather than technology. This people-centred approach drives our research and enables us to design AI technologies and systems which are ethical, responsible and inclusive.

Our Institute offers a unique environment where visionary academics will help shape the future of AI as part of a collaborative community of co-creators. We pioneer the future of trustworthy, responsible and inclusive AI for education, healthcare, wellbeing, social interaction, entertainment, work and sustainability. We are working with the next generation of inspiring research leaders with a passion for shaping AI to create a brighter future for everyone.

Our truly innovative and cross-disciplinary institute will put people at the heart of AI by focusing on tackling six grand challenges for the benefit of society:

Far from a dystopian future where robots take over, the Surrey Institute for People-Centred AI envisions humans and machines working in harmony for the public good.

Since the beginnings of AI, many have worried about machines taking jobs away from people as they automate processes across industry and in the business and creative worlds. An equally compelling concern is that our lives could be governed by systems that are biased, unethical and exclude parts of society. Surrey’s vision for AI – spearheaded by our new institute – directly addresses these concerns. “Our vision is for people and machines to work in harmony, creating systems which are inclusive, ethical, responsible, and put the needs of people first,” says Professor Hilton, founding Director of the Institute.

“In the future, AI will impact almost every area of life – from how we manage our money to how we diagnose disease. Research in AI needs to break down barriers between disciplines to ensure that we consider and shape its impact from every angle for the benefit of us all.”

With this in mind, the new institute will be Surrey’s first pan-university community of interdisciplinary co-creators with expertise in areas such as law, business, education, communication, and human and animal health, as well as the fundamentals of AI. It will build on Surrey’s existing AI network of around 300 researchers working across the disciplines, and on the University’s long-established excellence in the field, since pioneering fundamental concepts of machine learning over the last 30 plus years, through its world-leading Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP), ranked number one for computer vision research.

Foundation of the Institute

The University of Surrey has a proud history of collaboration, both cross-university and with industry, government and leading organisations internationally to realise transformative advances with real-world impact. The strong application focus and industry engagement across the University, with world-leading core and domain expertise, create the potential for Surrey to lead the future impact of AI on people and society.

Surrey leads on both fundamental AI theory –pioneering machine learning information theory for understanding AI systems, and novel architectures to achieve world-leading audio-visual machine perception –together with the application of people-centred AI in healthcare, security, creative industries and the digital economy.

The AI@Surrey cross-university research network, established in 2018, demonstrated the breadth of AI related research across the University including over 30 research groups from fundamentals (CVSSP, computer science, mathematics) to applications:

Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

  • Advanced Technology Institute
  • Chemical and process engineering
  • Institute for Communication Systems
  • Mechanical engineering sciences
  • Physics.

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

  • Health
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Sleep
  • Veterinary science.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

  • Business and finance
  • Hospitality
  • Institute of Sound Recording
  • Language
  • Law
  • Sociology and criminology.

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Surrey Institute for People-Centred AI
University of Surrey
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