The University of Edinburgh is launching a new multi-million pound initiative set to push towards the forefront of generative AI (genAI) to benefit society and stimulate economic growth.
The Generative AI Laboratory (GAIL) will unite the University’s research and innovation in AI to develop safe solutions and systems for industry and government and bring substantial benefits to those who use them.
“GAIL builds on world-class research at the School of Informatics in AI and machine learning, which has been applied to a variety of fields such as healthcare, fintech and sustainability,” Professor Helen Hastie said, head of the school of informatics at the University.
“The School is well placed to be an anchor for the GAIL cross-disciplinary research and development, by forging key collaborations within the University and with external partners and policymakers.”
GenAI, explained briefly, is a type of machine learning that can be used to generate various types of content including text, images, video and computer code.
Different from traditional AI, generative AI is supposed to generate new and unique outputs, which can also lead it to generate incorrect information or hallucinate information as if it was real.
GenAI is not auditable or explainable, and can create results that are not repeatable, meaning it can be unpredictable and difficult to study or manage, raising many questions abouts its ethical and safe applications.
Despite these concerns, progress in this type of AI has been swift in recent months and genAI has already transformed business operations, increasing productivity and enhancing areas of academic study.
The University of Edinburgh has a well-established high performance computing infrastructure and has contributed to Edinburgh’s ranking as one of the most AI-ready cities in the UK.
Further, it currently houses to the UK’s national supercomputer ARCHER2, and is soon to be one of few institutes in the world to have a next generation supercomputer, the Exascale.
Experts at GAIL are set to work in partnership with the University’s Centre for Technomoral Futures to take a fresh look at the ethical, legal, and regulatory frameworks necessary to ensure the safe and responsible use of AI.
The initiative aims to develop techniques for generative AI in key areas such as robotics, drug discovery, medical diagnoses, semi-conductor development, and tackling climate change.
Edinburgh’s deep-rooted partnerships with public and private sector institutions are meant to strengthen this project, as well as benefit from the innovative uses of generative AI that GAIL will create.
Further to this, the UK Government also announced that Edinburgh will host a trio of AI training centres from UKRI, including one in biomedical innovation, one in language processing, and one in robotics.
“Edinburgh is uniquely placed to provide world-class leadership and expertise around generative AI,” professor Iain Gordon said, the vice principle and head of the college of science and engineering at the University of Edinburgh. “Once operational, this exciting initiative will create a new pipeline of talent with the skills to both benefit from and shape the economic and societal benefits of this transformational technology.”