We are delighted to announce new research funding from the EPSRC to explore the potential for collaborative learning between humans and AI within the framework of environmental citizen science. A new collaboration between KMi (Siddharthan and Rüger) and STEM Deanery / EEES (Ansine), in partnership with Imperial College London, University of Aberdeen, Learning Through Landscapes and St Alban’s Primary School, Havant, has been awarded just under £500,000 under the EPSRC’s call for Digital Economy Investigator-led Research Projects.
Our research is on developing a new citizen science paradigm that facilitates science practice and learning through collaboration between citizens and Artificial Intelligence. For naturalists, the honing of identification skills is a key motivator of the recording activity. The introduction of technology (e.g. image recognition for species identification) risks de-skilling citizens by replacing human intelligence with machine intelligence. We will instead design systems that provide opportunities for learning for both citizens and machines, and co-create technology to ensure that it responds to citizen motivations. Over the next three years, we will study this learning interplay with respect to collaborative species identification, and will also explore technologies that foster wider science learning, environmental consciousness and data literacy through better communication of complex citizen science data.
Our proposed work programme seeks to bring about quantifiable benefits to (a) science, e.g., through the production of new knowledge and through monitoring key scientific processes at challenging temporal-spatial scales; (b) diverse stakeholders including the citizens themselves, e.g., through meaningful science learning in formal and informal education contexts; and (c) wider society, e.g., through better societal understanding of current sustainability issues, leading to individual and societal action in support of the environment.