Carnegie Trust awards funding for Artificial Intelligence workshop series

An interdisciplinary group of scholars, including Senior Lecturer in Philosophy Dr Mark Sprevak, has been awarded funding from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland under its inaugural Carnegie Research Workshops scheme

The workshop series will explore fundamental questions about the relationship between international legal obligations and emerging applications of artificial intelligence (AI) that bear upon key domains of international law: the laws of war, human rights and refugee law.

Examining real-world applications

The challenges of AI are an ever-present subject of debate and discussion, and the public are presented with a constant refrain that AI will change everything. In actuality, current real-world AI development and application is particularly tangible and visible in one domain: the delegation of decisions by public authorities (national and international) to AI systems.

The workshop series will explore these processes within three specific domains:

  • AI and battlefield decision-making under the laws of war;
  • AI and the digitalisation of welfare policy; and
  • AI and refugee determination and border control.

These three domains of real-world AI application by public powers raise fundamental questions about the rule of international law in the creation, use and responsibility for AI systems to which law-governed decisions have been partially or fully delegated.

Each workshop will develop a case study based on an existing technology or in-development platform, and engage with policy-makers, computer scientists, technologists, industry representatives and individuals working at the cutting-edge of developing and using these systems.

Interdisciplinary collaboration

The workshops will build an international network of research and collaboration which develops common frameworks of understanding and knowledge exchange on issues related to AI and international rule of law. This will allow the Scottish based researchers to leverage their very considerable expertise and capacity across the fields of law, informatics, philosophy, social studies of science and sociology, and contribute to making Scotland a critical node in this international network.

Led by Professor Nehal Bhuta (Professor of Public International Law), the group developing the workshops includes philosophy researcher Dr Mark Sprevak, Dr Liz McFall (Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Chancellor’s Fellow) and Dr Rebecca Sutton (Teaching Fellow and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow) from the University of Edinburgh and Professor Chris Johnson (Computer Science) from the University of Glasgow.

The workshop series is also supported by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) Challenge Investment Fund, Edinburgh Law School and the Edinburgh Futures Institute.

Related links

CAHSS Challenge Investment Fund

Edinburgh Law School

Edinburgh Futures Institute 

Nehal Buta

Mark Sprevak

Liz McFall

Rebecca Sutton

Chris Johnson