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UK-Japan project to examine use of emotional AI in smart cities

It is one of several projects exploring AI’s effects on individuals’ happiness and wellbeing, and its economic implications for skills, work and education.

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Six UK-Japan projects have been launched to investigate the multiple, uncertain and wide-ranging impacts artificial intelligence (AI) could have on society, culture and economy.

 

The three-year projects will seek to boost understanding of how AI technologies affect people’s lives, from the technolgy’s use in healthcare to its potential to transform housework, and the ethics of using AI to make legal decisions.

 

Ethics of using AI

 

The projects cover a range of topics from AI’s effects on individuals’ happiness and wellbeing to its economic implications for skills, work and education, and issues relating to transparency, responsibility, governance and ethics.

 

One of the six projects will advise on best practice around the use of AI in healthcare to ensure it benefits everyone in both countries. Another will develop ways to predict how advances in AI could transform and automate housework, and one will look at the consequences of introducing AI into Japanese and UK legal systems.

 

Meanwhile, Northumbria University will be focusing on the use of emotional AI in policing and security, exploring both the benefits and potential issues.

With the rise of smart devices in buildings and cities, experts believe that emotional AI may have the capacity to enhance safety, especially when it comes to preventing crime and improving security. However, there are also risks.

 

“We must understand the social and ethical implications that arise from the use of different techniques that allow our bodies, feelings, intentions and emotional states to be read by machines.”

 

Researchers will consider what it means to live well and ethically alongside emotional AI in smart cities, in the context of commercial settings such as shops, security settings such as policing and within the context of the media, including social media.

 

“We must understand the social and ethical implications that arise from the use of different techniques that allow our bodies, feelings, intentions and emotional states to be read by machines,” said Dr Diana Miranda, lecturer in criminology at Northumbria University and a member of Northumbria’s Centre for Crime and Policing.

 

“This project aims to explore such implications by considering how these technologies could be used in different settings and the differences between the two countries we are working in, namely their social, cultural and legal particularities," she added.

 

Emotional AI in smart cities

 

As well as interviewing organisations already developing or deploying emotional AI in smart cities, the team will examine existing governance for the collection and use of intimate data in relation to people’s emotions, especially in public spaces.

 

The intention is also to speak to people living in smart cities to find out more about their diverse attitudes to emotional AI. This information will be used to provide recommendations for future developments and shape how emotional AI is used in the future.

 

One of the outcomes of the project will be the development of a think tank which will provide impartial advice on the use of emotional AI to governments around the world, as well as industry, educators and other stakeholders.

 

The projects have been funded through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Fund for International Collaboration (FIC) in a joint UK-Japan initiative. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), both part of UKRI, contributed £2.4 million via FIC, while the Japanese Science and Technology Agency (JST) contributed ¥180 million.

 

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