University of Cambridge launches AI research centre to ensure technology benefits humanity

The University of Cambridge has already launched the UK's first Masters Degree in the ethics of AI. Credit: ITV Anglia

A university has created a research centre to ensure the "double-edged sword" of artificial intelligence benefits humanity.

The launch of the Institute for Technology and Humanity at University of Cambridge comes amid concerns and warnings that while AI can transform parts of everyday life, the technology's risks could be catastrophic.

In May, the Centre for AI Safety said the the risks from AI should be treated with the same urgency as "pandemics or nuclear war".

Artificial intelligence can be used in an almost endless variety of applications - from writing essays, to creating fake videos, diagnosing disease or for automated robotics.

University of Cambridge's Dr Stephen Cave said he hoped to minimise the risks and ensure the technology's rapid advancements will be for the benefit of humans.

Dr Cave said: "Previous waves of technological transformation helped us thrive as a species, with higher incomes and life expectancy, and more people alive than ever before.

"But those waves also had huge costs.

"Despite dramatic technological advancements, there are many things we find it hard to imagine changing, such as social and political systems.

"But the lesson of history is that technology can very easily provoke huge instability, including the collapse of democracy and all-out war."

The Institute for Technology and Humanity will contain historians and philosophers, as well as computer scientists and robotics experts.

Its current work includes designing ethical AI and computer vision systems to help self-driving cars spot hidden pedestrians.

Cambridge University's vice-chancellor, Prof Deborah Prentice, said the institute was "rising to this challenge of ensuring that human technologies do not exceed and overwhelm human capacities and human needs".

The University has already launched the UK's first Masters Degree in the ethics of AI.

Earlier this month world leaders and billionaire Elon Musk attended the world's first safety summit on AI.

Musk, who owns Tesla and X, said the world should "hope for the best, but prepare for the worst" with the technology.

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