IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Project on ethical use of artificial intelligence in international education receives funding

23 April 2020

A project to ensure that artificial intelligence (AI) is used ethically for international development and education has received funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

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The UCL Institute of Education (IOE) project, developed by Dr Selena Nemorin, will examine the impact of public–private partnerships on the use of AI in education in Ghana and South Africa.

As well as the implications that AI systems might have for teaching and learning, the project will investigate potential benefits, harms, and risks associated with the leadership roles that corporations play in design and use of AI within developing nations' educational practices.

Dr Nemorin, of the UCL Knowledge Lab, was awarded the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship grant for the project. These Fellowships are awarded to the research and innovation leaders of the future. Dr Nemorin is one of 90 Fellows announced today (23 April) who will be supported by UKRI to develop their careers while tackling ambitious challenges through the funding.

Dr Nemorin’s project will use data and stakeholders from industry, government, academia, and civic groups to develop an Algorithmic Impact Assessment tool that can be responsive to diverse populations. The framework will identify key cross-cultural values and social issues and evaluate how these will impact the use of AI in education and vice versa. The tool will incorporate a local adjustment resource to accommodate cultural, religious, or other sources of value differences that emerge from field work.

Stakeholders will also co-design and develop a Fair-AI Education Trust Mark. The Mark will be useful for the educational leadership of developing nations as they choose corporate partners and technical systems for their schools. 

The tool will also provide guidance to companies who commit to the ethical principles upon which their educational technology proposals will be judged. This will include localising software and understanding regulatory compliance.

Dr Nemorin said: "Although artificial intelligence in education will likely provide significant benefits to developing nations, it might also bring unintentional and negative implications. It is important, then, to identify and understand the various impacts that these new technological systems may have, specific to issues around fairness, equity, and inclusion."

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, said: “The Future Leaders Fellowships are UKRI’s flagship talent programme, designed to foster and nurture the research and innovation leaders of the future.

“We are delighted to support these outstanding researchers and innovators across universities, research organisations and businesses.”