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Northumbria research helps shape the future of AI

1st May 2018

Evidence submitted by a Northumbria University researcher has been cited in a House of Lords Select Committee report on artificial intelligence (AI).

Thomas Cheney is a PhD candidate in space law and part of a research group at Northumbria Law School led by Professor Christopher Newman, one of the UK and Europe’s leading experts in space law and policy.

Responding to a call for evidence from the House of Lords Select Committee, Thomas made a submission based on his knowledge of legal issues arising from the exploration of space, which he argued are relevant for AI. His written evidence has been cited twice in the 180-page report entitled AI in the UK: ready, willing and able? A recommendation for a global coordination policy for AI to be led by the United Nations (UN) was also referenced.

Thomas said: “Many lessons have been learned from the dawn of the space age that can help inform and manage the growth of AI, and which I felt would assist the work of the Select Committee. Based on our research here at Northumbria I suggested that the nature of the technologies used in both crosses over borders and would benefit significantly from international coordination and governance. Such an interconnected model could also help smaller nations who may lack the resources and technology to develop AI on their own.

“A UN-coordinated approach to issues of governance and safety has been successful in space exploration, and could fulfil a similar role for AI – especially around broader issues such as cyber security.”

Professor Christopher Newman added: “Having written evidence accepted in high profile and policy-shaping Select Committee reports underlines the significance, quality and impact of our research at Northumbria, and indeed of our researchers like Thomas. It is extremely gratifying to see his work contributing to the development of technologies of fundamental importance to society, such as AI.”

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