Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Friday, April 10, 2020
  • Subscribe to EnterpriseAI Weekly Updates:  Subscribe by email

£500,000 to Test How AI and Humans Can Work Together for Social Good 

March 26, 2020 -- Nesta is partnering with Wellcome TrustCloudera Foundation, and Omidyar Network, to fund 15 new experiments bringing together the best of people working together with artificial intelligence, to mobilise a wider range of information, ideas and insights to address a social challenge.

The grants of up to £30,000 will fund investigations of what is known as ‘collective intelligence’ - the combination of human and machine knowledge to solve challenges including during Covid-19 pandemic throwing modeling and citizen science. This round of grants will fund projects ranging from making collective decision-making more inclusive to tackling online harassment and making sustainable behavior changes to mitigate air pollution.

One of the projects from Samurai Labs, will look at whether people can work together with AI to reduce levels of harassment on the online forum Reddit.

In another, Umbrellium, a tech company dedicated to improving urban life will work with Tower Hamlets Council in London and Loop Labs to see if citizen science and tech can help people make sustainable reductions in air pollution.

Researchers at the University of Bristol will test whether a swarm of robots interacting with humans can help people to reach informed consensus. This will generate useful insights for the design of new decision-making tools.

Grantees are using collective intelligence in a range of fields, including humanitarian response. Drones for Humanity (Kenya Flying Labs) and Kenya Red Cross who will combine local knowledge with AI to try to reduce cholera outbreak, and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap and Red Cross Netherlands who will use AI-generated map features to support people in mapping unmapped parts of Africa.

Five of the 15 funded experiments focus on health-related challenges and are funded by Wellcome Trust. They will be  looking into issues such as overcoming barriers to patient-led research, improving the accuracy of medical diagnosis, and exploring peer learning and positive deviance in managing diseases.

This is the second round of collective intelligence grants funded by Nesta, Cloudera FoundationOmidyar Network, and Wellcome Trust. In the first round, researchers at AI Lab at Vrije Universiteit Brussel explored whether artificial agents can be useful in making decisions in collective risk situations, like the current pandemic. Their insights are particularly interesting with regard to people’s trust in machines. Also in the first round FanSHEN, a theatre company, worked with young people to test whether immersive digital storytelling can improve people’s perspective taking skills and therefore collective decision-making.

The projects will receive up to £30,000 each to run experiments over the coming year and Nesta hopes that they reveal the breadth of potential uses for collective intelligence approaches.

Kathy Peach, Head of Nesta’s Centre of Collective Intelligence Design, said: “People and machines bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table. We need to harness these complementary strengths to make the combination of artificial intelligence and human collective intelligence a powerful combination for solving problems. Our partnership with Wellcome Trust, Cloudera Foundation, and Omidyar Network enables us to help grow the emerging field of collective intelligence design further. Our collaboration with such amazing funders is a powerful sign of growing interest in this field, but the funds directed to collective intelligence initiatives still remain small compared to what is dedicated to the field of artificial intelligence. As the experiments funded by these grants show, collective intelligence has huge potential for societal benefits and we hope that this will encourage more people to test this approach and more funders to direct their resources to collective intelligence.”

Claudia Juech, CEO of Cloudera Foundation said: “We at the Cloudera Foundation think of artificial intelligence as a tool that augments, not replaces, our human capacity to make informed choices. We are excited to partner with Nesta, Wellcome and Omidyar to support these 15 bold collective intelligence experiments. We believe the results will show that collective intelligence can make a difference. If communities are actively involved in the gathering and use of their data, we not only begin to close the gaps in existing data collections that often underrepresent low-income or marginalized populations, but also we can then leverage collective intelligence to make real sense of the insights.”

Haidee Bell, Strategic Design & Innovation Lead at Wellcome said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Nesta and other leading funders in this field to see the potential of the intersection of data from different sources. We’ve been curious to understand how collective intelligence might empower people to be part of health and research in different ways and are excited by the very real potential to create change in the health of populations through this work.”

Eshanthi Ranasinghe, Head of Exploration & Future Sensing at Omidyar Network said: "We are excited to join Nesta, Cloudera Foundation, and Wellcome Trust in congratulating this new set of collective intelligence grantees. They are pushing our understanding of how powerful forms of technology can be combined with human input to create outcomes that people and communities trust. We’ve seen both tremendous good and tremendous harm come from technological advancements, but through partnership like this, we believe that good tech will win out."

More information about Nesta’s Centre for Collective Intelligence Design is available at

About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better.  We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. We've spent over 20 years working out the best ways to make change happen through research and experimenting, and we've applied that to our work in innovation policy, health, education, government innovation and the creative economy and arts. Nesta is based in the UK and supported by a financial endowment. We work with partners around the globe to bring bold ideas to life to change the world for good.

Source: Nesta

Add a Comment

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This