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UCL and Peking University co-host AI event at World Economic Forum

28 January 2020

Joint session explored the value that responsibly-developed artificial intelligence (AI) can bring to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals

UCL and PKU delegates at the 2020 World Economic Forum

Leading academics from UCL and Peking University (PKU) took part in a joint session at this year’s World Economic Forum, entitled “A roadmap for AI towards SDGs.”

Sharing experiences from China and Europe, the panel considered how ethically applied AI can better fulfil healthcare needs, achieve quality education, realise responsible consumption and production, and build sustainable cities and communities.

UCL participants included Professor Geraint Rees, UCL’s Pro-Vice-Provost (AI), Professor Rose Luckin (UCL Institute of Education) and Dr Jack Stilgoe (UCL Department of Science & Technology Studies).

Panellists discussed the principles that underlie ethical AI, such as fairness, accountability, sustainability and transparency of decision-making, from an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective.

Transformative technology

UCL's  Professor Rose Luckin, Professor Geraint Rees and Dr Jack Stilgoe at WEF 2020
Geraint described the work of UCL’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence, in issues from diagnosing and treating illnesses in individuals and populations, to considering the benefits the digital revolution could bring to the education sector.

He said: “Achieving SDGs will require changes in both human behaviour and advances in machine intelligence, and we need to think deeply about the interaction between the two. How will machine learning impact human learning, and how will human behaviours affect the development of machine learning and technology?

“Doing this will require experts from across a broad range of disciplines to come together to discuss, debate and design how humans and machines will interact. And universities will play a key role in making this happen.”

Broad collaboration

UCL-PKU share a deep strategic partnership based on strong collaboration in research and education across a broad range of disciplines. Current activity spans all four UCL Schools and eight Faculties.

The WEF event is the first joint activity on AI between the two universities. Earlier in the week, senior academics from both institutions took part in a workshop at UCL’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to discuss future collaboration.  

WEF 2020 took place from 21-24 January in Davos, Switzerland. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’.

Other UCL academics taking part in WEF 2020 events included Professor Mariana Mazzucato (UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose), who presented her thinking around rediscovering purpose, and Professor Sophie Scott (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience).


Visit UCL’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence website 

The UCL-PKU strategic partner funds will open in Spring 2020. Read about past recipients here

Find out more about the UCL-PKU partnership 

Read more news from WEF