Dr Sara Bernardini | Senior Lecturer | Department of Computer Science
“My why… is artificial intelligence, a uniquely powerful and transformative technology that can change lives.”
My research is around Artificial Intelligence (AI), with interests in designing and building intelligent and autonomous agent and multi-agent systems through automated decision-making techniques. I came to AI after studying Computer Science and Engineering when I developed a keen interest in robotics and intelligent systems.
I had an early opportunity to work with NASA Ames Research Center (USA) on autonomous planning agents for space mission operations, contributing to the development of the reasoning capabilities of two rovers sent to Mars – Spirit and Opportunity. I’ve continued my collaboration with NASA developing technology for search and tracking drones which can support with search and rescue and disaster responses.
My research experience covers AI task planning, specialising in autonomous surveillance technology, both in aerial and underwater vehicles. Used for reconnaissance and spotting threats, this technology could help with the safe passage of ships. I have also worked as part of an interdisciplinary team that focused on autonomous and intelligent agents for children on the autistic spectrum to create an 'intelligent companion' supporting the development of social skills.
As an expert in automated decision-making, I know first-hand that AI is a uniquely powerful and transformative technology. AI can have a significant impact not only to further the progress of the wealthy countries but also to foster the advancement of developing nations. For example, AI can teach people new skills and support lifelong learning. At the same time, the development of AI raises ethical and societal challenges for AI experts and policy-makers, who share the responsibility to deploy an AI technology that is safe, reliable and fair. Studying Computer Science at Royal Holloway
As a Computer Science student at Royal Holloway, you’ll have the opportunity to discover what makes AI so unique. AI is a tool different from any other because of three crucial aspects.
Firstly, AI is a universal tool, which will soon be incorporated in all other technologies, eg self-driving cars, smart homes, robotics, personalised medicine.
Secondly, AI can accelerate its own development, besides the development of other tools, eg machine learning is an AI tool that can improve itself as well as other AI algorithms.
Thirdly, AI agents are autonomous, ie they make and implement decisions without constant human intervention.
In addition, AI is based on data, which are often collected from people and contain sensitive information about them.Considering all these factors together, it becomes clear why AI generates excitement but also concerns. It is an exciting technology to study because it makes a very tangible and positive impact on our lives.