Artificial intelligence strategy: trustworthy, ethical and inclusive

Our artificial intelligence (AI) strategy sets out a vision for AI in Scotland, the principles that will guide us, and the actions we’ll take to develop and strengthen our AI ecosystem over the next five years.

What is AI?

AI is not a new phenomenon. It can trace its origins to the early days of modern computing when the term was first coined in the 1950s – its mathematical and theoretical basis goes back even further.

While descriptions abound, we define AI as:

Technologies used to allow computers to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, and language translation[8]

AI is a broad discipline. Think of it as a group of complementary technologies, including data-driven techniques, which are evolving constantly. For this reason, our Strategy does not focus on any individual trends or innovations. Also, while automation and some aspects of robotics are connected to AI, they are not addressed directly in this Strategy.

Definitions of frequently used AI terms are provided in the Glossary at the end of this document.

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Clinician reading breast scan, NHS Grampian Credit: Dr Gerald Lip
A photo of a clinician analysing a breast scan.

North East Scotland Breast Screening Programme

Using AI to improve accuracy and efficiency in breast screening

There is great interest in using AI to read mammograms in breast cancer screenings, support the work of radiologists and deliver better outcomes for women. Experts are keen to explore the potential for AI to further improve the already high standards of breast screening programmes in detecting cancers and turning around results more quickly.

The North East of Scotland Breast Screening Programme team is a partner in iCAIRD (Industrial Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in Digital Diagnostics), one of five UK centres of excellence funded by Innovate UK.

A collaboration between Canon Medical Research Europe and the NHS Scotland has constructed a platform for safe and secure AI research within the University of Aberdeen's Safe Haven. This has enabled Kheiron Medical to develop an AI programme that learns from four years of anonymised breast screening images, comprising over 80,000 sets of mammograms.

The project aims to establish how effectively the AI programme can augment human diagnosis, identify very small cancers that may be missed by human operators and reduce the number of women who are recalled because of equivocal results.

The Aberdeen team is now talking to patient groups across the country and developing plans to evaluate the AI programme more widely, prospectively across the Scottish Breast Screening Programme during 2021.

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Using AI to help young people manage their mental health

Alli-chat by Voxsio

Alli-chat is an AI powered chatbot, delivered through mobile apps on iOS and Android, which helps young people manage their mental health. Developed by Voxsio in collaboration with young people, educational psychologists and the NHS, Alli-chat gives users a safe space to talk about their mental wellbeing – a place free from stigma, where they can open up about their feelings and emotions.

Alli-chat uses natural language understanding (NLU) to engage young people in interactive conversations, which are personalised to each user and based on their issues and circumstances. This resource helps young people understand their mental health and how it is affecting them. Alli-chat allows individuals to explore relevant information, drawn from trusted sources, to help them self-manage their mental wellbeing and provides access to tools and activities to help them build mental strength and resilience.

Engaging young people in conversations about their mental health has enormous benefits. Crucially, it is helping to develop a generation of young people who have the vocabulary and the tools to understand and manage their mental wellbeing.

A photo of an AI powered ‘chatbot’ that helps young people to manage their mental health.
A photo of an AI powered ‘chatbot’ that helps young people to manage their mental health.

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AI in Gaming

Scottish Games Network

Scotland has been a leader in video game development since the early 1990s when a tiny line of lemmings put the country on the global games map. Since then, Scottish-based developers have continued to innovate, applying their expertise in AI to push the boundaries of possibility and transform the way games are developed and played.

AI is the driving force behind some of the world's most memorable gaming moments, from Pac-Man's ectoplasmic enemies in 1980, through to the epic living, breathing city in 1997's original Grand Theft Auto courtesy of Rockstar Games.

AI allows gamers to pit their wits against computer-controlled opponents and makes it possible for developers to create complex ecosystems, from the deepest dungeons to an entire universe. From the simplest 'hyper-casual' mobile games to sophisticated

multi-player experiences, the use of AI in the industry continues to grow.

Today, two Scottish companies are among a thriving AI community at the forefront of video game technology.

Kythera's comprehensive AI platform supports many of the world's most popular development engines including Unreal and Lumberyard and provides the AI behind Wolcen Studios' bestseller Lords of Mayhem.

Mercuna's leading-edge navigation and route-finding technology supports both the Unity and Unreal engines and features in the 2020 RPG Maneater produced by Tripwire Interactive.



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