Leicester Artificial Intelligence Network (LAIN)

LAIN brings together expertise from diverse fields and is the University of Leicester’s first such platform to promote interdisciplinary collaborations pivoting on artificial intelligence (AI). The technological applications of AI have spread from autonomous agents and robots to social and economic domains for decision-making, which start to shape the very social fabrics of the human existence. Only diverse perspectives and research methods can fully grasp the technological, economic, political and social gravity of AI for the future of societies.

Leicester Artificial Intelligence Network (LAIN)

Follow us on Twitter @LeicNet

See list of members and areas of expertise here

AI pic

Upcoming Events:

April 2020: Living with Ambient Intelligence– exploring a ‘common thread'
From autonomous vehicles to smart homes and crises management
Organised by Genovefa Kefalidou

29th April 13.00, location TBC. Contact Kefalidou, Genovefa for more information at <gk169@leicester.ac.uk>

Past Events:

March 2019: Is deep learning the answer to everything? Speaker Danny Cookes

27th March, 13.00, location TBC. Contact Zhou, Huiyu for more info at <hz143@leicester.ac.uk>

'Is deep learning the answer to everything? Experience from some medical application'

Prof Danny Crookes, Queen's University Belfast

In the past, the traditional approach to image analysis and object recognition was for the developer to decide which features should be detected, and then feed these into a trained classifier.  These solutions were usually very specific to the application, and were not general-purpose.  With recent developments in deep learning, the goal is to allow some form of DNN to work out what features give the best discrimination, based on having enough training data.  These systems not only give much better detection accuracy, but are also becoming more general-purpose - at least, as far as the algorithms are concerned.  These successes have led to a major change of emphasis in Artificial Intelligence research: instead of trying to model something of the human reasoning processing, the emphasis nowadays is on gathering vast amounts of training data and relying on deep learning to do the rest.

This talk will illustrate this trend through a number of medical-related image processing projects with which the speaker has been associated.  It will also suggest some reasons why we should not assume that deep learning will solve all the problems, and will suggest some longer term directions for AI research in the field of computer vision.

May 2019: AI and development in the global south

Imagining an AI-led Future? Myths and Reality
Dr. Bingchun Meng
Time & Location: May 16, 2019, 14.00 - 17.00 hrs, Leicester Innovation Hub, 128 Regent Road, Leicester, LE1 7PA
Contact Yujie Chen (Julie) yc273@leicester.ac.uk for more information

Are we entering an era of “AI superpowers”, as technocratic writer Kai-Fu Lee claimed? A seemingly perfect alliance is shaping up among venture capitalists, technology entrepreneurs and the Chinese government in inscribing layers of significance into AI as the technology of the future. What does this future entail for different social groups? Who are the main stakeholders making claims on this future and how are those claims related to their positionality in the broader power structure of political economy? Dr. Meng’s talk will tentatively address these questions by drawing upon data collected via recent fieldwork in Beijing and Shenzhen as well as secondary sources. The talk is open to all and everyone is welcome.
Speaker’s bio: Dr. Bingchun Meng is Associate Professor and Deputy Head of the Department of Media and Communications at London School of Economics. Dr. Meng’s research interests include political economy of media industries, communication governance, gender and the media, and comparative media studies. She has published widely on these topic areas on leading international journals. Her book The Politics of Chinese Media: Consensus and Contestation was published by Palgrave in early 2018.

June 2019: Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) Festival of work

12th and 13th June 2019

Assoc Prof Dr Phoebe V Moore will speak at the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) Festival of work in Olympia, London, as part of the University of Leicester's presence at this event.

'Risks and Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace'

Assoc Prof Dr Phoebe V Moore

European Union Agency for Occupational Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) Expert Report

Today, AI is becoming a much-hyped arena of research and development at the corporate and governmental and in conjunction, is now having an impact at the social and individual level and in particular, in the workplace. This expert report starts by discussing the meaning of AI to identify its significance for current debates. Then, it outlines where AI is being used in a series of applications and tools used for assisted work, as well as workplace decision-making and the OSH risks and benefits arising. Human resource (HR) practices are rapidly integrating people analytics and interview filming. Factories and call centres are introducing AI-augmented robotics, including collaborative robots (cobots) and chatbots. Wearable technologies and assistive tablets are becoming widespread on the production assembly line in production centres. Algorithmic processes are being introduced in work in the gig economy. After outlining where AI is entering the workplace, the report outlines international stakeholder responses to the rising risks and benefits to occupational safety and health (OSH). Finally, we provide some recommendations for how to best manage and mitigate the worst risks that could arise from using AI in workplaces.

July 2019: Royal Society Science Festival

1st to 7th July, 6 - 9 Carlton House Terrace, London

Come to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibtion 2019 in London where LAIN will support the exhibit dedicated to the subject of Trust in Autonomous Vehicles. This exhibit will feature several activities about how the AI used in autonomous vehicles can be explained to the general public and how AI can be used to ensure safety in autonomous vehicles.

Contact Mohammad Mousavi mm789@leicester.ac.uk for more information

August 2019: Science Museum Late - DriverLess

28th August,  Science Museum, London

Join us in the Science Museum late event from 6:45pm to 10pm. There, we demonstrate our AI and Autonomous Vehicle research and examie the issues of trust and safety for autonomous vehicles.  

Contact Mohammad Mousavi mm789@leicester.ac.uk for more information

September 2019: Smart Cities Seminar

11th September,  University of Leicester

Participate in the  IBM and University of Leicester Smart Cities Workshop held on 11th September from 12 to 4pm at the Leicester Innovation Hub. Speakers include: James Neophytou (IBM, Practice Lead for IBM Internet of Things), Ian Thurlow (British Telecom, Future Business Technology), Kieran O Hea (Leicester City Council, Head of Smart Cities) and Bruce McLelland (Innovate UK , Future Cities).

Contact William Darler  william.darler@leicester.ac.uk for more information.

September 2019: Landscaping workshop: Surveying mobility

Organised by: Mohammad Mousavi mm789@leicester.ac.uk

October 2019: Artificial Intelligence and Work

Artificial Intelligence and Work

Friday 25 October 2019

University of Leicester, room TBC

Human resource and other management practices involving artificial intelligence (AI) such as people analytics, algorithmic management by platform, sentiment analysis, biometric recording, customer service chatbots, and facial recognition of cobots, have introduced the use of big data and machine learning to make judgements about workers and to eliminate what has been called the “people problem”. Risks to safety and health and even violence and harrassment are on the rise, as digitalization becomes endemic in workplaces from the factory, to offices, streets and work within the home when/if AI is not appropriately regulated. Because of this, the ethical and moral questions this raises must be addressed, where the possibilities for discrimination and labour market exclusion are real. People’s autonomy and work/life balance and specific needs or interests to make choices in the context of irregular career patterns, time out of work for reproductive and domestic labour, maternity leave, physical illness and mental health issues, are at stake. These issues must be addressed when AI is used for workplace decision-making.



'Artificial Intelligence is Watching You at Work. Digital Surveillance, Employee Monitoring and Regulatory Issues in the EU context'

Dr Elena Gramano Goethe University Frankfurt is a Postdoctoral Fellow for the Institute for Labour and Civil Law and an assistant editor on the project Restatement of Labour Law in Europe. Her work focuses on employment law, industrial relations, big data and digitalised work as AI is increasingly relevant for labour law.

Dr Antonio Aloisi European University Institute, is a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow in the Law Department. He researches non-standard employment and platform-mediated work at the individual and collective level. His interests span employment law and industrial relations and currently he is working on digital transformations of workplaces.

New technologies are reshaping the world of work in an ever-growing number of fields. They have been redesigning workplace interactions and power relationships since ever, but the full potential of some digital instruments seems only partially unleashed as regards pace, scale and scope. The current wave of industrial development is acclaimed as the “second machine age”, boosted by the proliferation of cyber-physical infrastructure and interconnected systems making possible new practices of surveillance and profiling in workplaces, and the resulting gigantic datasets in turn lay the groundwork for the artificial intelligence boom. Only recently, however, international, European and domestic institutions have started considering how to update existing regulation in order to face the complex and far-reaching challenges posed by ubiquitous tech devices and, more specifically, by artificial intelligence (“AI”), a general-purpose application able to mimic adaptive and predictive “functions that humans associate with their own intelligence”, as it applies to work and workplaces.

'Negotiating the Algorithm: Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Labour Protection'

Prof Dr Valerio De Stefano KU Leuven Faculty of Law

This paper aims at filling some gaps in the mainstream debate on automation, the introduction of new technologies at the workplace and the future of work. This debate has concentrated, so far, on how many jobs will be lost as a consequence of technological innovation. This paper examines instead issues related to the quality of jobs in future labour markets. It addresses the detrimental effects on workers of awarding legal capacity and rights and obligation to robots. It examines the implications of practices such as People Analytics and the use of big data and artificial intelligence to manage the workforce. It stresses on an oft-neglected feature of the contract of employment, namely the fact that it vests the employer with authority and managerial prerogatives over workers. It points out that a vital function of labour law is to limit these authority and prerogatives to protect the human dignity of workers.

'Protecting workers in the digital age'

Dr Janine Berg International Labour Organisation (ILO)

This paper discusses challenges and possible solutions for ensuring adequate labour and social protection in the digital age.  It explains how the digital age has aggravated many of the shortcomings of the industrial era of labour protection, further increasing precarity. Moreover, the challenges have been made worse as a result of technological advances that have facilitated cross-border labour provision through digital platforms and new forms of worker control. The paper argues that we need to devise multifaceted policy solutions to ensure that workers in the digital age are protected. The ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work took an important step in this direction with its recommendations, including its call for a Universal Labour Guarantee, time sovereignty, a “human-in-command” approach to technology, and investments in the green and care economy. The paper will evaluate the merit of these responses and discuss how they can be further developed.


Dr Torsten Geelan: TBC

Assoc Prof Dr Phoebe V Moore: 'Artificial Intelligence and Work'

The ways that technologies and machines are incorporated into society, and humans’ relationships with machines reveal ideas about what ‘intelligence’ is, or can be. But the invention of technologies that allow specific machines to come into being do not stand in isolation of their social circumstances or political economy, but have been incorporated into work processes and used to valorise living labour. To legitimately discuss artificial intelligence and its contemporary relevance and impact on workplaces and working conditions, this article starts by outlining the background for discussions about intelligence which have been attributed to humans and machines.

Moore's findings show that intelligence has been continuously linked to quantification and with an overarching power structure where, as calculation and prediction machines advance, we expect ourselves as humans to advance, but only in direct alignment or even perhaps in competition with machines. Then, the article discusses how AI is being incorporated into specific practices in workplaces, emphasising the risks that these pose for workers particularly when given precedence for human resource decisionmaking and automation. Driving the thinking for this article lie the following questions: why do we want machines to behave ‘intelligently’? what do we mean by ‘intelligence’? and what is at risk when we ask machines to behave in our own image, in this case, what risks are posed to workers?


Artificial Intelligence and Work

  • 'The Algorithmic Boss' Assoc Prof Dr Jeremias Prassl (Oxford University)
  • 'Calculated Bias: The Social and Ethical Dimensions of Automating the HR Function' Dr Xanthe Whittaker (Leeds University)
  • 'Work and Artificial Intelligence: making, faking, and breaking' Dr Jamie Woodcock (Oxford Internet Institute)

Social Media, Big Data and the Labour Movement: Exploring New Forms of Activism and Worker Representation to Raise Labour Standards

  • 'Datafication of the workplace: towards a data justice response', Dr (Reader) Lina Dencik (Cardiff School of Journalism, Co-Founder/Director of the Data Justice Lab)
  • 'The Twin Peaks of UCU: Existential Surrealism on the Pension Picket Line', Dr Torsten Geelan (University of Leicester) and Assoc Prof Dr Athina Karatzogianni (University of Leicester)
  • 'Going beyond Mobilisation at McDonald’s: The Lessons of ‘OUR Walmart’ for UK Unions', Dr Alex Wood (Oxford Internet Institute)

AI Platforms, North & South

  • 'Delivering Edinburgh: Uncovering the Digital Geography of Platform Labour in the City' Dr Karen Gregory (University of Edinburgh)
  • 'Artificial Intelligence and the Global South' Dr Juan Grigera (Kings College London)
  • 'Working with algorithms: Spatial and bodily politics of Chinese food-delivery workers' Dr. Yingqing Zheng, Dr. Philip Wu (Royal Holloway, University of London)

February 2020:Artificial Intelligence: Occupational Safety and Helth and the Future of Work

Leicester Launch of Dr Moore’s EU-OSHA Report and Screening & Panel Discussion of ‘Ex Machina’

Assoc Prof Dr Phoebe V Moore was commissioned by the European Union Agency for Safety and Health at Work EU-OSHA to write the report  ‘Artificial Intelligence: Occupational Safety and Health and the Future of Work’. Read more about the report here. Dr (Reader) Michael Goddard spoke at this event.

The Project:

The Network brings together expertise from diverse fields and as such is the University of Leicester’s first platform to promote interdisciplinary collaborations pivoting on AI. The technological applications of AI have spread from autonomous agents and robots to social and economic domains for decision-making, which start to shape the very social fabric of human existence. Only diverse perspectives and research methods can fully grasp the technological, economic, political and social gravity of AI for the future of societies.

LAIN was founded by 18 faculty from 10 different departments and 3 different colleges. The initial founding members have expertise in fields of intelligent mobility and technology and work. The network exists to grow and facilitate constructive collaborations. It aims to:

1) bring together researchers across all colleges at the University of Leicester studying different (technical, social, legal, and business-related) aspects of AI

2) lay the ground for developing innovative cross-disciplinary research agendas among interested researchers at Leicester and beyond.

Research Network co-founders:

Yujie Chen (Media and Communication): yc273@le.ac.uk

Phoebe Moore (Business): pm358@leicester.ac.uk Follow Dr Moore’s blog here

Mohammad Reza Mousavi (Informatics): mm789@leicester.ac.uk

Research Network Members:

Mateusz Bocian (Engineering)

William Darler (Business)

Torsten K.R. Geelan (Business)

John D. Goodwin (Sociology)

Simon Gunn (Urban History)

Jason R.A. Hughes (Sociology)

Athina Karatzogianni (Media and Communication)

Genovefa Kefalidou (Informatics)

Sally Kyd (Law)

Simon Lilley (Business)

Andrew Newton (Criminology)

Henrietta O'Connor (Sociology)

William Toff (Cardiovascular Sciences)

Ivan Tyiukin (Maths)

Huiyu Zhou (Informatics)

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