In a unique interdisciplinary bid for an AI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) researchers at the University of Glasgow (School of Computing Science, School of Psychology and Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology) have been awarded an UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to train a cohort of 50 PhD students on Socially Intelligent Artificial Agents.
The overarching goal of the CDT is to shape the next generation of experts in Artificial Social Intelligence. It is the AI domain aimed at endowing artificial agents with social intelligence: the ability to deal with users’ attitudes intentions, feelings, personality and expectations. The PhD cohort will benefit from the world leading expertise of 30+ academics spanning from Computing Science, Engineering, Psychology and Social Science, further including 16 industrial partners. Each PhD project will have an interdisciplinary supervisory team and/or industrial associate.
Director Prof Alessandro Vinciarelli, Professor in the School of Computing Science, who led the bid, said: “We are delighted to have been given this unique opportunity to train the next generation of experts in Artificial Social Intelligence, to lead and advance AI driven interactive technologies nationally and internationally. We are most grateful to UKRI for recognising the needs of the UK economy to become more competitive via informed use and development of socially intelligent agents, and to trust us to fill this current gap, by training the next generation of experts.”
Dr Monika Harvey, Reader in the School of Psychology, who co-wrote the bid as Associate Director, explains the strengths of the interdisciplinary cohort training approach: “We are now in the unique position of offering training that goes well beyond the knowledge of individual supervisors. From day 1 the students will be embedded in facilities, training courses and events that span multiple disciplines. They will learn from each other, engage with industry and feed this knowledge and expertise into other UK and international training centres. The ESRC funded Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences (SGSSS), as well as SICSA (the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance) are already partnering us in this venture, and we are thrilled about the mutual cohort training opportunities this will make possible” Harvey points out.
In response to receiving this funding, Prof Stacy Marsella, Co-Director from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, is humbled “It is a huge honour to be given the opportunity to run this CDT. Glasgow does world-leading research in Artificial Social Intelligence, and PhD level cohort training can now take off here at the University. I am looking forward to using this funding to build a training environment that will not only attract Social AI researchers, but also public, private and third sector investors from around the world.”
For the 1st time UKRI have funded 16 UK wide Artificial Intelligence Centres for Doctoral Training Centres including significant industrial co-funding. 1000 Doctoral students are envisaged to be trained over the next 8 years.