£35m UK facility to study AI and robotics' threat to humanity
A new £35m facility is to be established by the University of York to study the safety of modern robotics and AI.
The York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy will establish three central research pillars: design, assurance, and communications.
The university already has a number of existing programmes in this field, including the Assuring Autonomy International Programme in partnership with the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, and the York Centre for Quantum Technologies.
The latest facility will house specialist laboratories and testing facilities – bringing together industrial partners and world-leading experts in the field.
The new facility is one of 11 projects being funded through round six of Research England’s flagship capital investment scheme, the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF).
The UKRPIF fund is providing £10.5m for the York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy with £24.5m secured through match funding from industrial and philanthropic partners.
York's Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Saul Tendler said: "The investment announced today is one of the largest in research infrastructure at York.
“It represents a significant vote of confidence in the University and the region and confirms our position as one of the world’s premier institutions for inspirational and life-changing research.
“We are already leading the way in this hugely important area with researchers across multiple departments working together to advance the safe introduction of robotics and connected autonomous systems across the globe.”
Professor John McDermid, Director of the Assuring Autonomy International Programme at the University, added: “The world is experiencing an unprecedented period of technological advancement. Robotics and AI will change every part of our lives.
“They will remove people from harmful jobs, transform transport, improve productivity, and deliver better social and medical care.
“But this rapid advancement comes with challenges: How do we assure their safety? The York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy will support research that will give developers, members of the public and regulators the justified confidence that they need in the safety of autonomous systems.”