AI for People and Planet


Our research

Our vision comes to life through a range of research and innovation programmes that cover fundamental AI, the application of AI, and responsible AI.

Discover the UCL faculties, departments, institutes and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) leading on AI and AI-related research. For the latest on UCL AI research initiatives and impact, visit our News and Events page.

1. The importance of foundational AI

Foundational AI sits at the heart of our ‘AI for people and planet’ strategy. Its connections to application areas are critical to its success. Find out more below:

UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence

The AI Centre carries out foundational research in AI, with the aim to create new AI technologies and advise on the use of AI in science, industry and society.

Other UCL foundational AI centres and initiatives

Developing and Understanding Foundational Algorithms:

  • Centre for Computational Statistics and Machine Learning
  • Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit
  • Computational Statistics
  • Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Foundational AI

New approaches for machine vision, machine learning, machine reading, knowledge representation, and data science:

  • Intelligent Systems Group
  • Knowledge, Information and Data Science (KIDS) Group
  • Centre for Data Science

Discover foundational AI research at UCL

    2. The application of AI

    'AI for people and planet' will require connections to be made within and between application areas, linking strongly to foundational AI and recognising that translation into practice and impact takes many routes and different forms.

    UCL seeks to contribute to emerging practices of AI use in policing, criminal justice systems, and redefinition of skills and retraining as well as other areas of machine-to-human interactions. Initially, we will develop positive mission statements in the nine application areas listed below to guide our practice.

    Discover some of the key UCL institutes, centres, departments, and research programmes, in these areas:

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    I. Health and social care

    AI is transforming all aspects of Healthcare diagnoses, treatment and health and care delivery to be more efficient and cost effective. Through the increasing availability of healthcare data and rapid progress of analytics techniques AI is being utilised to address unmet patient and population need.

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    II. Biology and neuroscience

    From next generation sequencing, satellite/drone environmental imaging, light sheet microscopy and more, very large data sets allow the transformative power of machine learning to be leveraged in order to understand highly complex biological systems.

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    III. Education and work

    AI research conducted within UCL considers current and future educational and workplace challenges faced across the globe. Our research addresses the need to educate people about AI to equip them with the skills and knowledge they need for the modern workplace and for contemporary life.

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    IV. Finance and risk

    AI has a transformative role in the creation and delivery of novel financial tools and the analysis of risk. Our work not only creates these developments but seeks to understand some of the biases and risks that can arise through the application of new financial technologies.

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    V. Natural and built environment

    The proliferation of AI applications shape and are shaped by our physical world. From biodiversity monitoring to urban dynamics and consumer retail behaviour, AI allows us to understand, design and analyse the natural and built space in which we live, work, and recreate daily.

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    VI. Energy and sustainability

    The UK has declared a climate emergency and legislated a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050. UCL is undertaking research in the use of AI and data analytics to inform new business models and transform our energy systems to solve energy and sustainability issues.

    VII.  Citizens, law and policy

    Supporting research, development and take up of AI is a key part of the UK’s industrial strategy. Researchers at UCL are helping to shape AI’s role in industrial strategy and education by exploring the questions that AI raises for the sector.

    VIII. Transportation and mobility

    AI is greatly enhancing our ability to predict and manage the implications of behaviour choice and equipment performance for all aspects of transport. In addition, insights from AI are helping to uncovering and shaping new business models for mobility.

    IX.   Earth and the cosmos

    UCL academics are world-leading experts in applying cutting-edge AI/ML to many research fields of mathematical and physical sciences to push the boundaries of our understanding of earth and the universe.

    3. Responsible AI, urbanisation and society

    Urbanisation is a feature of contemporary human society. The development of AI technologies is concentrated in cities, including London; and the people these technologies are intended to benefit also tend to live in such cities.

    For this reason, UCL, as a comprehensive global university located in a technologically advanced global city, is particularly well placed to contribute to the development of AI technologies.

    Insights developed through our Grand Challenges of Sustainable Cities, Transformative Technologies and others are incorporated into our AI strategy.

    At the same time, we recognise the need for inclusion of all communities, not just urban ones, in our application of AI to benefit people and planet.

    Some of this work will be undertaken through the UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS).

    Science and Technology Studies

    UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) is a university research and teaching centre for the integrated study of history of science, philosophy of science, science policy, and sociology of science.