Introduction

The Alan Turing Institute’s Public Engagement Grant award was established in 2022, to empower and support UK researchers to bolster their public engagement efforts and enrich their own research. Through this award, the Turing will help data science and AI researchers to connect with members of the public who do not usually engage with science. 

Call objectives 

Our 2022 funding call was aimed at encouraging and supporting researchers to engage creatively with the public around data science and AI technologies. The call objectives were: 

  • Expand and promote public understanding of AI and data science in society. 
  • Provide balanced, unbiased information in an accessible format, highlighting both the risks and benefits of AI and emerging technologies in society. 
  • Widen participation by inspiring members of the public who may not usually interact with science to take an interest and have a voice in AI and data science. 
  • Achieve clear and measurable impact. 

Process 

The first initiative of its kind for the Turing, this pilot call ran from 20 April to 25 May 2022. A diverse panel (in terms of gender, ethnicity and area of expertise) of seven researchers from across the Turing’s university partner network reviewed and scored the applications, before meeting to deliberate and come to a final decision. Each application was reviewed twice, and care was taken to ensure diversity across the two reviewers allocated to each application. 

Seven projects were selected to receive funding; details below.

For more information on this scheme, please contact the Public Engagement Manager, Jessie Wand, at [email protected]

A smart city that works for all: A case study of Leicester

De Montfort University

Leicester City Council has ambitions for Leicester to become a pioneering smart city.  

This project aims to engage with people from across Leicester to inform policy, shape the delivery of the smart city, and explore how people can benefit from the opportunities that a smart city will provide.  

This project plans to support and train five community reporters who will 'get people talking’ in different ways about what a smart city means for them, via community radio and ‘Wicked’ Problem’ solving’.  

Community reporters will co-produce a range of content, from short audio clips to hour- long podcasts, that can air on local stations, spanning from 'views on the street' to expert commentary. 

Collaborators, Solvers Studio, a design-led systems change agency, will support community understanding of the role of AI and systems design practices within public policy and resource planning, and help to solve complex issues around data privacy and consent.  

Learn more

Edward Cartwright Rob Watson Swati Virmani Ruben Martinez-Cardenas
Professor Edward Cartwright
Professor of Economics at De Montfort University 
Dr Rob Watson
Director at Decentered Media 
Dr Swati Virmani
Senior Lecturer in Economics at De Montfort University 
Dr Ruben Martinez-Cardenas
Senior Lecturer in Economics at De Montfort University 

 

Learning experiments in computer vision and visual literacy

London South Bank University

The widespread adoption of computer vision affects the lives of its users at unprecedented levels, and populations already exposed to various forms of discrimination are most vulnerable. 

Working with Secondary Art & Design teachers across London and trainee teachers at UCL Institute of Education, this project will result in the creation and annotation of visual datasets, to understand how they influence algorithmic decision-making. They will develop methods to involve people who are usually unwittingly included in the process of elaboration of datasets and likely to be impacted by them.  

Through hands-on experimentation with dataset curation and machine training, participants will be given a concrete context through which they can understand the risks and benefits of AI and computer vision. The teachers will then cascade this lesson to their pupils, maximising impact using the ‘train the trainer’ model. 

This project informs the development of a larger body of research led by the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image.

Geoff Cox Annie Davey Nicolas Maleve Yasmine Boudiaf
Dr Geoff Cox
Professor of Art and Computational Culture at London South Bank University 
Annie Davey
Lecturer in Art Culture and Education at UCL Institute of Education 
Dr Nicolas Malevé
Artist-researcher and member of Constant  
Yasmine Boudiaf
Creative Technologist at Justice Matrix 

 

Performing AI

Coventry University

Young people will be most affected by artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, according to UNICEF (2018). They therefore require knowledge and agency regarding Al systems. This project provides innovative opportunities for them to deepen their understanding through the question posed by project partner, Serpentine’s Creative AI Lab: What role can AI art practice play in exploring alternative versions of AI and in fostering its public understanding? (Bunz et al 2022) 

To address this, the team will work with UK young people (aged 18-30) on an interactive audiovisual performance and online game developed by artist duo and project partner DMSTFCTN. Both are set within a real-time 3D simulation used to train deep-learning AI systems. The performance features a monologue co-written with an AI language model and delivered by an AI undergoing training in the simulation, with facial motion capture and voice modulation used to animate the AI character. 

Kevin Walker Eva Jaeger Oliver Smith Francesco Tacchini
Dr Kevin Walker
Associate Professor in Immersive Media at Coventry University 
Eva Jaeger
Curator of Arts Technologies at Serpentine  
Oliver Smith
Artist DMSTFCTN 
Francesco Tacchini
Artist DMSTFCTN  

 

People-powered AI: responsible research and innovation through community ideation and involvement

Manchester Metropolitan University

This project aims to build public trust and repair negative perceptions of AI created by the media, and encourage more diverse voices to interact with researchers and innovators during research and development (R&D) processes and wider public discourse.  

The team plans to establish a Greater Manchester People’s Panel for AI (PPfAI) to empower marginalised communities to contribute to AI R&D. 

They will train panel members from two communities in the Greater Manchester area to probe and scrutinise AI research and systems, to consider potential impacts of these technologies, and make recommendations, with an initial focus on contentious AI in education.  

Two meetings will be organised involving presentations from SMEs and early career researchers (ERCs). Panel members will question presenters on the ethical dimensions of their R&D, then provide recommendations on more ethical practices. 

The long-term hope is that SMEs and ERCs adjust their practices based on these recommendations, and that the citizen’s panel continues. 

Learn more

Annabel Latham Keely Crocket Blank person
Dr Annabel Latham
Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University 
Professor Keeley Crocket
Professor in Computational Intelligence at Manchester Metropolitan University 
Hannah Berry
Project Officer, Greater Manchester Equality Alliance (GM=EqAI) 

 

AI diagnosis of ovarian cancer – can you trust a machine to find tumours?

University of Cambridge 

In recent years, the quantitative analysis of radiological images is proving promising in predicting evolution and response to high-grade serous ovarian cancer. However, this analysis, which involves accurately describing the position and boundaries of tumours, relies on the availability of expert radiologists and is very time-consuming, preventing it from being used in the clinical setting for every patient. 

The ultimate goal for this interdisciplinary team is integrating AI -based support decision systems for cancer treatment into the clinic. The aim of this project is to present the team’s research in an enjoyable and interactive way, with the goal of improving the understanding and trust of a wide audience on AI-based methods being used to assist radiological assessments. 

The team will run a live visual Turing test, challenging participants to guess if the analysis of tumours presented in a set of images has been done manually or automatically.  

Lorena Escudero Carola-Bibiane Cathal McCague Thomas BUddenkotte
Dr Lorena Escudero Sanchez
Senior Research Associate at University of Cambridge and Turing Fellow
Professor Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb
Professor at University of Cambridge and Turing Fellow
Dr Cathal McCague
Clinical Research Associate at University of Cambridge
Thomas Buddenkotte
PhD Student at University of Cambridge 

 

The ethics of digital immortality and digital bodies

University of Cambridge 

A Dead Body in Taos is a play that has been co-commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre and Fuel Theatre Productions. 

At the heart of the play is an ethical dilemma: upon the death of her mother, a grieving daughter is left with two options. Option 1: halt the grieving process using an AI system that can rebuild her mother through an algorithm. Option 2: pursue the grieving process and accept her death. 

This project aims to bring these issues to the fore and enable public debate through accessible mediums that go beyond typical theatre audiences. The play acts as a reference point to draw out core themes that will be broadened to a wider demographic via podcast, social media learning content and interactive conversational AI and gender workshops. 

Magda Osman Kate McGrath Blank person Blank person
Dr Magda Osman
Head of Research and Analysis Centre for Science and Policy at University of Cambridge 
Kate McGrath
Director at Fuel Productions
Marina Sacco
Engagement Manager at Fuel Productions
Dr Coral Manton
Technologist & Lecturer in Creative Computing at Bath Spa University 

 

PIE for women roadshow: Robotics and AI for STEAM-H

Cardiff Metropolitan University

The PIE programme (Partnership for Innovation in EUREKA) provides accessible insights into the field of robotics and delivers hands-on demonstrations of robot technologies. 

This project proposes to focus on women and girls, fostering the creation of communities that encourage women and girls to participate in AI. 

The team will run a series of novel robotics roadshows for STEAM-H (science, technology, engineering, arts, maths and healthcare), which will provide demonstrations on robotics research to girls from ten schools, a minority ethnic group, and female staff working in the healthcare sector. 

The team will develop high-quality videos for public engagement, along with written evidence for impact case studies. These case studies will be submitted to the UK Parliament, the Welsh Government and Senedd, and partners at the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board with a view to informing future research and public policy on engagement and participation in robotics and AI. 

Barry Bentley Sia Chow Esyin Catherine Trfyona
Dr Barry Bentley
Deputy Director of EURKEA Robotics Centre at Metropolitan University 
Dr Sia Chow Siing
Co-Head of EURKEA Robotics Centre & Lead for STEAM Laboratory at Cardiff Metropolitan University 
Dr Esyin Chew
Director of EURKEA Robotics Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University 
Dr Catherine Tryfona
Associate Dean Partnerships (Cardiff School of Technologies) at Cardiff Metropolitan University