Professor Matt Jones of Swansea University’s Computational Foundry has been awarded a prestigious personal five-year Fellowship by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to pursue an adventurous and ambitious AI research agenda.
While many people say they feel worried and helpless when thinking about the impact of artificial intelligence on their everyday lives and livelihoods, Professor Jones’ Fellowship seeks to design inclusive and empowering interactive AI systems for everyone. The research aims to re-orientate away from systems that might 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.
Professor Jones calls this new approach for AI research, EVE – Everyone Virtuoso Everyday, which focuses on developing AI technology for meaningful and skilful interactions, similar to a virtuoso musician pouring their entire self into their instrument. However, Professor Jones’ work is not about turning everyone into an AI-fuelled musician but instead the work will look to provide tools that can be used in people’s daily lives.
Professor Jones hopes to achieve this by including a wider range of people in designing AI. He explains:
“There is a lack of diversity in those involved in imagining the AI tech-future with “tech bros” dominating the conversation. In contrast, with my team, I will work intensively with people who are not usually involved in AI discovery and innovation – people with lower socio-economic 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, a process further richly enhanced through the involvement of a diverse set of technology, service provision and creative partners including Microsoft Research, BBC R&D, the NHS, IBM, 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.
Professor Jones said:
“I am delighted and honoured to receive this Fellowship. 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.”
Pro-Vice Chancellor Helen Griffiths welcomed the news of the Fellowship, noting that,
“This highly prestigious Fellowship recognises not only the excellence that Professor Jones brings to people-centred AI research and innovation, but also the opportunity for leading positive change through inclusive design for all of our digital futures. It builds on Swansea University’s excellent track record in delivering transformative solutions to real-world problems.”