The University of Southampton

Professor Dame Wendy Hall appointed to new international council

Published: 
1 December 2014
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Southampton Professor Dame Wendy Hall has been named as a founding member of a new International Council on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (iCAIR).

Dame Wendy joins leading researchers and innovators from the world’s best universities, companies and organisations to pioneer the new iCAIR council that has just been launched in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Council was inspired by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and will offer advice on the best ways to use robotics and artificial intelligence to improve people’s lives.

It will also create educational materials, draw up a global action plan, be managed by the UAE Prime Minister’s Office and will meet annually to pursue a broad range of initiatives.

His Excellency Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs for the Federal Government of the UAE, said: “Humanity is on a journey. There are milestones on this journey – from the discovery of fire, to the invention of agriculture, to the industrial revolution. Robotics, automation and artificial intelligence are the next major steps in this journey.

“There is no limit to the imagination. There is no limit to hope. In the UAE, we believe in giving opportunity to everyone, and in using technology to help people achieve their dreams.”

Dame Wendy is Director of the Web Science Institute and Managing Director of the Web Science Trust, both based at the University of Southampton. As one of the first computer scientists to undertake serious research in multimedia and hypermedia, she has been at its forefront ever since. The influence of her work has been significant in many areas including digital libraries, the development of the Semantic Web, and the emerging research discipline of Web Science. Her current research includes applications of the Semantic Web and exploring the interface between the life sciences and the physical sciences.

As well as playing a prominent role in the development of her subject, she also helps shape science and engineering policy and education. Through her leadership roles on national and international bodies, she has shattered many glass ceilings, readily deploying her position on numerous national and international bodies to promote the role of women in Science, Engineering and Technology, and acting as an important role model for others.

She said: “I’m delighted to be part of this initiative which reflects the increasingly significant role that automated systems will play in all our lives and the need to harness the benefits for society as well as recognise the challenges. The vision and leadership shown by the government of the UAE to inaugurate this Council will be an inspiration to the world.”

iCAIR’s first initiative is the UAE Robots for Good Award that will build on the successful UAE Drones for Good Award that received 800 submissions from 62 countries around the world.

The awards will encourage research and application of innovative solutions to challenges in health, education and social services.

Winning submissions will provide real services that improve people’s lives, ranging from hardware to software intelligence and artificial agents.

Other initiatives of the Council will include educational conferences, the use of robotics in UAE schools and universities, and leading policies on the humanitarian and positive uses of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Dr Corinna E Lathan, Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, said: “We are pleased to collaborate with the UAE to develop a test bed and global action plan that will have measurable economic and policy impact, as well as to encourage public understanding and awareness of the positive potentials of artificial intelligence and robotics.”

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