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Cambridge University sets up new center for AI research

Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize much of the technology we use in everyday life, but there’s a long way to go before we can create a machine that truly thinks for itself. Today, Cambridge University announced plans for a facility to help scientists carry out this important work.

The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence will bring together computer scientists, philosophers, social scientists and more to address all aspects of artificial intelligence. The project is being carried out with the help of a $15 million grant from the Leverhulme trust, according to a report from Phys.org.

This grant was awarded to the university as a result of a proposal developed in conjunction with the institution’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh, the center’s executive director, noted that drone warfare and autonomous attacks would be among the concerns examined.

Related: Is Cortana a dangerous step towards artificial intelligence?

Once the realm of science fiction, artificial intelligence is quickly becoming a very real concept, liable to have an impact on your daily life in the not-too-distant future. Work is underway to implement this technology in everything from your car to your email client — and progress is being made on a constant basis.

There’s still plenty of work to be done in tackling obstacles that stand in the path of true machine learning, such as building up baselines of common sense knowledge and engineering perception systems. However, the Leverhulme Centre is poised to also address the divisive moral questions surrounding the use of artificial intelligence.

Professor Huw Price will lead work at the Leverhulme Centre, working with a specially assembled team representing a swathe of different areas of study. In materials announcing the project, Price was quoted as describing artificial intelligence as “one of the defining themes of our century.”