Economic and Social Research Council
Printable version

UK-Japanese projects to explore effects of AI on society and economy

Six innovative projects are set to uncover the multiple, uncertain and wide-ranging impacts Artificial Intelligence (AI) could have on our society, culture and economy.

  • Six UK-Japan projects to investigate multiple, uncertain and wide-ranging effects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on people’s lives
  • Could AI be used to make healthcare and legal decisions, could it transform and automate housework, or could legal liability change in accidents between humans and autonomous vehicles
  • The three-year projects, worth £2.4m and ¥180m, started this month

The projects will boost our understanding of how AI technologies affect people’s lives, from its use in healthcare to its potential to transform housework, and the ethics of using AI to using AI to make legal decisions.

The projects cover a wide range of topics including its effects on our happiness and wellbeing, its economic implications for skills, work and education, to the transparency, responsibility, governance and ethics of using AI. One of the six projects will advise on best practice around the use of AI in healthcare to ensure it benefits everyone in Japan and in the UK, another will develop ways to predict how advances in AI could transform housework in the two countries, and another will look at the consequences of the introduction of AI into Japanese and UK legal systems.

Science Minister, Chris Skidmore, said:

“AI is transforming people’s lives, from banking and cyber security, but we’re only at the cusp of our understanding of this technology. UK and Japanese collaborations will help us better comprehend the effects of AI on people’s lives, as it becomes more ingrained in society, culture and our economy, and help inform future government policy and legal decisions.”

Chief Director of the Japanese Science and Technology Agency’s Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (JST-RISTEX), Prof Kokuryo, said:

“It is critically important to build a society that embraces a harmonious relationship between information technology and humanity.

“Japan and the UK have similarities in that they are democracies valuing human right and freedom. At the same time, they are heterogeneous in its historical and cultural backgrounds.

“We are hoping that some notions in Japan such as “najimi (familiarity, or natural fit),” will help convey our inclination to consider the relationship between technology and humans in conviviality, rather than in hostility.”

AHRC’s Executive Chair, Professor Andrew Thompson, said:

“The potential impact of AI and machine learning is global and both the UK and Japan will encounter multiple social, cultural and economic opportunities and challenges resulting from the proliferation of these technologies.

“Recent investment in Japanese universities and funding programmes has created a vibrant, high-quality research community in Japan for exploring the broader societal implications of AI technologies. I am therefore pleased to now be working with both ESRC and JST and investing in this important area of research. These projects will help us understand the multiple ways in which AI technologies could affect people’s lives.”

ESRC’s Executive Chair, Professor Jennifer Rubin, said:

“The application of AI has implications for daily life, organisations and the economy. There is much we have yet to understand about how we can benefit from improvements afforded by AI while ensuring that those benefits are shared widely.

“In collaboration with AHRC and JST, these six projects will help us make progress in this area, from healthcare to law and unpaid work.”

The projects have been funded through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Fund for International Collaboration (FIC) in a joint UK-Japan initiative. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), both part of UKRI, contributed £2.4m via FIC, while the Japanese Science and Technology Agency (JST) contributed ¥180m. 

The projects will each run for three years beginning in January 2020.

Further information

For media enquiries, contact or Tamera Jones, 0734 202 5443,

Notes for Editors

  1. Project summaries:
    1. Ensuring the benefits of AI in healthcare for all: Designing a Sustainable Platform for Public and Professional Stakeholder Engagement - Professor Jane Kaye of the University of Oxford, and Professor Beverley Anne Yamamoto of Osaka University
    2. PATH-AI: Mapping an Intercultural Path to Privacy, Agency, and Trust in Human-AI Ecosystems - Dr David Leslie of The Alan Turing Institute, and Professor Hiroshi Nakagawa of RIKEN
    3. Legal Systems and Artificial Intelligence - Professor Simon Deakin of the University of Cambridge, and Professor Mihoko Sumida of Hitotsubashi University
    4. The Future of Unpaid Work: AI's potential to transform unpaid domestic work in the UK and Japan - Dr Ekaterina Hertog of the University of Oxford, and Nobuko Nagase of Ochanomizu University
    5. Rule of Law in the Age of AI: Principles of Distributive Liability for Multi-Agent Societies - Dr Phillip Morgan of Cardiff University, and Associate Professor Tatsuhiko Inatani of Kyoto University
    6. Emotional AI in Cities: Cross Cultural Lessons from UK and Japan on Designing for An Ethical Life - Professor Andrew John McStay of Bangor University, and Professor Peter Mantello of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
  2. UKRI-JST Joint Call on Artificial Intelligence and Society –
  3. Japanese Science and Technology Agency -
  4. UK Research and Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.  
  5. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.


Channel website:

Original article link:

Share this article

Latest News from
Economic and Social Research Council

Creative social storytelling with NHS Digital & Doncaster Council