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Royal Holloway named as new UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in AI for Digital Media Inclusion

Royal Holloway named as new UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in AI for Digital Media Inclusion

  • Date31 October 2023

Royal Holloway’s innovative storytelling unit, StoryFutures, alongside its partner University of Surrey, has been named as a new UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in AI for Digital Media Inclusion.

PAI CDT 2023 1200X675 Surrey Web

The centre will combine Royal Holloway’s track record of innovation in next-generation digital media with Surrey University’s world-leading expertise in people-centred artificial intelligence (AI). The CDT will establish a unique creative industry hub for high-quality training in responsible AI, inclusive design and creative skills, catalysing UK leadership in media inclusion for the whole population.

Digital media inclusion is essential for equality across society. It is the primary interface for access to education, healthcare, entertainment, finance and government services, but current media is often produced as one-size-fits-all, creating barriers to societal inclusion.

AI has the potential to transform media into intelligent content that dynamically adapts to individual preferences addressing the needs of diverse audiences, and encompassing factors such as age, language, neurodiversity, and sensory and physical abilities.

Professor Julie Sanders, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “Alongside our partners at the University of Surrey, this new Centre for Doctoral Training in AI will allow us to continue supporting the next generation of leaders within the UK’s creative industries.

“I am proud the new CDT, as part of our StoryFutures unit, will build on our initiatives and programmes that create real-world change from world-leading research. Through partnerships such as this, we can look to unlock inclusive research for the creative industries, and help produce transformative education and research which addresses the needs of today and the future.”

Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures, at Royal Holloway, added: “This is a first-of-its kind programme that is going to break new ground and pull down barriers through, and to, the future of storytelling.

“Using AI for inclusion will enable us to provide new tools for creatives and new experiences for audiences that ensure diversity is never an after-thought. By bringing together StoryFutures excellence in creative Research and Development with the University of Surrey’s leadership in AI, we’re writing a new chapter in the UK creative industries story of world-leading innovation.”

Professor Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor,  University of Surrey, said: “AI can be a true leveller of people and a liberator of ideas. At Surrey, we focus on nurturing the soul of AI with inclusivity, diversity and fairness at its heart. We welcome the announcement of the CDT in AI for Digital Media Inclusion. This is a recognition of the importance of people-centred AI doctoral training and a vehicle to help us deliver a transformative challenge-led programme in collaboration with Royal Holloway and all the industry partners who have signed up for this innovative approach.”

Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Paul Scully MP said: “Safe, responsible AI innovation will deliver benefits right across the economy and society. The advances it could unlock for our creative industries are the perfect example of this. With government backing, this centre will break down accessibility barriers in digital media by using AI to create personalised media experiences, meaning everyone can access information and entertainment regardless of age, background, or disabilities.”

The CDT will train a new generation of more than 80 industry-ready PhDs to lead the transformation to responsible AI-enabled inclusive media. This will forge a ground-breaking challenge-led model, co-designed and co-delivered with creative industry and end-user partners to remove significant real-world barriers to media inclusion.

Working in multi-disciplinary cohort teams to develop leadership, peer-learning and teamwork, we aim to deliver comprehensive multi-faceted AI solutions combining creative, technical, behavioural, linguistic, social and legal expertise, designed with inclusion for all at their heart.

AI-enabled inclusive media is a key driver for the creative industries to grow audience size, loyalty and revenue but this is severely limited by access to individuals with key AI and creative skills.

Creating digital media content and services that are inclusive for all is essential for societal equality and a business necessity to increase engagement for diverse audiences, the 'Purple pound' alone is valued at over £274bn per year in the UK. Our challenge-led training will foster a responsible creative AI ecosystem partnering with 50+ organisations from big-tech corporations to creative SMEs and user organisations to address real-world inclusive media challenges and realise the impact on society and the UK economy.

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