Posted on September 25, 2019 by staff

New £500,000 round for AI-human interaction tech


UK-based innovation foundation Nesta has secured support from global funders for the second round of its grants supporting experiments in ‘collective intelligence’.

The charity defines collective intelligence as something that is created when people work together, often with the help of technology, to mobilise a wider range of information, ideas and insights.

The grants will support people who want to experiment with the boundaries of the existing practice and knowledge in the field.

Nesta, which was originally funded by a £250m endowment from the UK National Lottery in 1998, said following the success of the first round of grants it has been joined in supporting the fund by the Wellcome Trust, Cloudera Foundation, and Omidyar Network.

The new interest has doubled the size of the funding pot for the second round to £500,000, with individual grants now available up to £30,000.

The first round of 12 grants, totalling £250,000 were made in April 2019 and are supporting the combination of human and machine knowledge to solve social challenges, it said.

Among the ideas funded in the current round are an experiment from CitizenLab in Belgium testing how machine-learning can be used to translate unstructured human discussions online into meaningful policy proposals. The hope is that this technology could help citizens use digital democracy platforms to greater effect and increase the uptake of public ideas by policy makers.

San Francisco-based Unanimous AI is testing whether algorithms modelled on the swarm behaviour of bees and fish can help find consensus among conflicting groups. These new forms of decision-making could one day replace our tradition forms of voting, and aid the search for solutions to divisive debates like Brexit.

The fund is open for applications until Friday 25th October 2019 through the Nesta website.

Kathy Peach, Head of Nesta’s Centre of Collective Intelligence Design, said: “While the field of collective intelligence is currently less well-known than artificial intelligence, we don’t believe that will remain the case for long.

“It is a paradox of our time that while we have built smarter technologies, in many ways our systems and societies have become more stupid.

“Funders who want to solve the complex global challenges of our time from climate change to fake news will recognise the urgency of making progress in how we, as humans, understand, think and act together. Collective intelligence is about combining the best of human and machine intelligence to do that.”

Claudia Juech, CEO of Cloudera Foundation, added:”Addressing today’s global challenges requires developing new tools and approaches beyond what we previously thought possible. The Cloudera Foundation is therefore thrilled to partner with Nesta’s Centre for Collective Intelligence Design program to seed ambitious experiments exploring how to combine human wisdom and computational insights in bold new ways.”