AI for People and Planet


Our vision

An AI vision for UCL - 'AI for People and Planet'

Our 'AI for People and Planet' vision encapsulates our belief that the purpose of research and innovation in AI and related technologies is ultimately to benefit people and societies around the world, and to make a positive impact on the planet.

This vision aims to provide a solid framework for UCL's work, and ultimately all partners' work, within the context of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge on Artifical Intelligence and Data

Adopting ‘AI for people and planet’ as our vision means that UCL will seek to position AI as a force for good in the world through considering:

1. The human dimension

We will always consider the human dimension in our AI research and teaching, identifying how to use advances in AI to enhance or improve humans and their societies, and the planet we live on. We will consider how AI could be used (or misused) by humans so as to understand how such technologies can be influenced to positively impact, influence or give rise to new social behaviours and phenomena.

2. Inclusion and diversity

Humans function best and achieve their fullest potential in societies that celebrate and practice diversity and inclusion. We shall therefore seek to include marginalized, disfavoured or disadvantaged communities in our AI work, using AI to remedy human biases rather than replicating them. We will work to positively foster inclusion and diversity in all our AI research, education and training.

3. Interdisciplinarity

Connecting fundamental AI to application areas to have a positive impact on people and planet requires a strongly interdisciplinary approach, linking to UCL’s strengths in Grand Challenges. Establishing new links, or strengthening existing ones, between experts working on the fundamentals of AI and those working with similar expertise in application areas will be required to accelerate and fully realise the knowledge, application and benefits of AI for people and society. We will also build on links between researchers in fundamental AI and those working to understand the ways in which AI shapes, and is shaped by, the social contexts in which it is developed, recognising that these links will be necessary for a full understanding of AI's role in society, and equipping UCL research to lead in contributing to the theoretical and policy frameworks underpinning responsible governance.

4. Open Science

To facilitate the impact of AI for people and planet, we will make code and data openly available wherever possible using the relevant repositories and licenses. At the same time, we will be mindful that governance mechanisms will be required to protect personal data and the need to prevent premature public disclosure of technologies, if there is the potential for commercialisation. UCL Open Science is a cross-domain approach to creating, sharing, evaluating, rewarding and curating research and education outputs.

5. Misuse

We will be active in identifying potential for misuse in our work or that of others, and will instead always seek possibilities for AI to have a positive impact on people and planet. We will not engage with research or education in AI whose primary purpose is to cause harm to humans.

Our vision does not constrain the topic areas we study. Rather, it sets our priorities and orients our values. We anticipate that our vision will flow through our research, education and innovation in AI and its related technologies. Future developments should reference this vision and explain how it is represented in the development proposed.

AI in practice at UCL

Our vision comes to life through a range of research, education and innovation activities, and programmes, that cover:

A.  Foundational AI

B.  The application of AI, including in the following areas:

I.     Health and social care
II.    Biology and neuroscience
III.   Education and work

IV.   Finance and risk
V.    The natural and built environment
VI.   Energy and sustainability

VII.  Citizens, law and policy
VIII. Transportation and mobility
IX.   Earth and the cosmos

C.  Responsible AI, urbanisation and society

Click here for details of our research under these areas.