Oxford Social Scientists secure two awards to explore effects of AI on society

Researchers from the Faculty of Law and Department of Sociology are collaborating with partners in Japan to uncover the multiple, uncertain and wide-ranging impacts Artificial Intelligence (AI) could have on our society, culture and economy.


Professor Jane Kaye

Professor Jane Kaye, Director of HeLEX, will embark on a 3-year project to design a platform for public and professional stakeholder engagement in the implementation of AI technologies in healthcare, in partnership with Professor Beverley Yamamoto of Osaka University.

The interdisciplinary project team includes researchers from social sciences, medicine, and legal backgrounds, will address challenges posed by the proliferation of data-driven technologies, and how they may affect patients, the public, healthcare professionals.

‘It is exciting be working with the Oxford team on this very meaningful project,’ said Professor Kaye’s partner, Professor Beverley Yamamoto.

‘Given that we are only just starting to apply AI to health care settings, identifying appropriate engagement mechanisms to allow key stakeholders, including patients, to work together to ensure the relevance, acceptance and equitability of this new technology is of profound importance.’


Running in parallel to their project, Dr Ekaterina Hertog in the Department of Sociology and Professor Nobuko Nagase of Ochanomizu University will investigate AI's potential to transform unpaid domestic work in the UK and Japan.

Building on existing predictions of the likelihood of certain paid professions becoming automated, the team will analyse social, technological, and economic factors to make realistic predictions as to how AI-powered technology might facilitate (or replace) humans in unpaid, domestic tasks – and what the social consequences might be.

Dr Ekaterina Hertog

Dr Hertog said, ‘Smart technology has been entering our homes for years, dramatically changing our leisure time. We are also on the cusp of major changes happening to the way we carry out unpaid domestic work.’

‘Our project will scope smart technology’s potential to free up time currently locked into unpaid house or care work – and how willing we might be to introduce these changes in our home lives. Our findings will also highlight the potential and emerging vulnerabilities that could come with handing over domestic tasks to AI.’

These are two of six projects to have received funding 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.