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Edinburgh Law School joins new £3.2 million project into the governance and regulation of decision-making machines

Mon 2 November 2020

Amazon Alexa with purple lights

The University of Edinburgh will lead a new project to ensure the trustworthiness of systems that put machines in charge of decisions, from virtual assistants like Alexa to aircraft autopilot.

Led by Professor Subramanian Ramamoorthy from the School of Informatics and Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, the project is part of the UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) programme, funded through the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund and delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

“The core motivation for this programme is that autonomous systems are becoming increasingly more prevalent in society- including both software decision making systems in finance and medical diagnostics, conversational agents like Alexa as well as physical systems ranging from home robots to self-driving cars and planes,” said Prof Ramamoorthy.

“Basically, Trustworthy Autonomous Systems covers the full range of the application of AI in real systems in our lives. Our specific project is on the governance and regulation of such systems.”

Prof Burkhard Schafer and Dr Lachlan Urquhart of Edinburgh Law School are co-investigators on the project and will lead on research into the legal and social aspects of the governance of Trustworthy Autonomous Systems.

Prof Schafer’s work will include an exploration of how legal norms, rules and human values can be embodied in these systems, as well as mapping out what modes of governance exist for Trustworthy Autonomous Systems in order to anticipate new harms and determine the most appropriate responses. 

Dr Urquhart will lead on research that reflects on what trustworthiness looks like for these systems and how these principles can be integrated into developer processes to form a ‘trustworthy by design toolkit’.

Read more about the new project on the School of Informatics website