Elected Representatives and Responsible AI Futures

Scotland’s democratic institutions face both challenges and opportunities arising out of developments in AI. We are looking for a fellow to help us prepare MSPs to understand and respond to the challenges surrounding Responsible AI in the Scottish national context. This will involve developing frameworks and methodologies as well as building educational tools, guidelines and establishing responsible practices.

In this context, we invite research proposals that look at the role Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) can play in supporting the development and use of Responsible AI in Scotland. (challenge code SFF-C)
We have framed the challenge widely to encourage a wide range of proposals from across the arts and humanities that engage with one or more of the various roles that MSPs have:
As parliamentarians (which involves holding government and other bodies to account, debating issues of importance to the people of Scotland, and passing laws)
As community representatives and leaders
As public figures often in the media
While the focus is on the different roles of MSPs within our democratic institutions, we welcome projects that, at least in part, address the challenge from a devolved policy lens, such as education, health or justice.

Additional Context

Scotland’s Futures Forum is the Scottish Parliament’s futures think-tank. It works on a non-party basis to promote research and to stimulate debate on the long-term challenges and opportunities that Scotland faces. We aim to inform MSPs and those who work with them, enabling them to consider the effects of decisions taken today on Scotland’s long-term future.

Looking beyond the five-year electoral cycle and away from party politics, the Futures Forum seeks to bring fresh perspectives, ideas and creativity on how we might prepare now for the future. We host discussions and seminars and present ideas to engage Scotland’s parliamentarians and challenge their thinking.

We invite research proposals that:

  • align with the wider work that the Futures Forum is involved with on AI as outlined here;
  • promise novel insights and approaches from an arts and humanities perspective, including research on social and cultural studies or the history, law, and philosophy of technologies;
  • explore and innovate at the intersection of democratic institutions, the AI ecosystem, and the public interest;
  • call for regular contact and engagement with the Futures Forum;
  • promote ongoing knowledge exchange and practical outputs that are usable by the parliament alongside any research papers; and
  • benefit from a flexible and collaborative approach.

Working Arrangements

The Futures Forum is run by a small team with guidance from a board of directors comprising both MSPs and non-MSPs. It works with partners throughout the Parliament to encourage strategic and long-term thinking. As with all parliamentary offices, Scotland’s Futures Forum works across the different political parties, and staff have a duty to remain impartial. To maximise the impact of their work, fellows will be expected to always adhere to rules of impartiality.

How it will work

  • If the application is successful, the Futures Forum will work with the fellow to refine the project plan and agree on shared goals and outcomes.
  • The Futures Forum will support the fellow in terms of onboarding, providing a research contact and engaging in regular meetings. The Futures Forum can provide office space in the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh for the fellow to work from as needed. This would be available up to two days a week and, subject to the fellow passing the appropriate security clearance, could be used independently. The Futures Forum is also set up for hybrid working.
  • The fellow will need to work in the Scottish Parliament building from time to time, where the fellow will be invited to meet with MSPs and staff and observe parliamentary business.
  • Projects will need to incorporate outputs that are tailored to MSPs and those who work in and around the Scottish Parliament. This may include private or public seminars, briefings, toolkits and/or explainers. There may also be the opportunity to take part in more public-facing activities through, for example, the Parliament’s Festival of Politics.
  • We expect the fellow to factor into their budget proposal travel, accommodation and subsistence costs and any specific research costs they envision.
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