Baillie Gifford pledges £5m to support university research

Published: 19 October 2018

Global investment firm Baillie Gifford has pledged £5 million to support research into the ethical challenges posed by the growing use of data and artificial intelligence.

A research programme based at the University of Edinburgh will address pressing concerns around emerging technologies, including machine learning, accelerated automation, and financial innovation.

The firm said the pledge reflects its support for the university’s belief that data and AI can make a positive impact on people’s lives in the UK and globally.

The University of Edinburgh is a global leader in artificial intelligence and data science, and Baillie Gifford is glad to support its research into the ethics of AI...

Nick Thomas, Partner, Baillie Gifford


Areas of investigation, for example, could include the use and regulation of personal data by industry and government, understanding and mitigating the impact of increased automation on the job market, and the challenge of building an ethical framework for introducing driverless cars onto public roads. 

The gift will create the Baillie Gifford Chair and Research Programme into Data and AI Ethics at the University of Edinburgh. The firm’s support also extends to a new senior research fellowship, up to 18 PhD students over the next decade, and an annual flagship lecture.

Professor Peter Mathieson, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “We need new ways of thinking about how we integrate and manage it, to ensure that it benefits everyone. This generous gift from Baillie Gifford is a visionary step towards helping us achieve this goal.”

The new programme will be based at the university’s Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI), which will open in the city’s former Royal Infirmary in 2021.

EFI director Professor Lesley McAra said: “EFI is extremely grateful for the very generous donation made by Baillie Gifford. At EFI we aim to harness the fast-moving developments in data and artificial intelligence for social benefit...”

Full story via Scottish Financial News


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