Wyser Ltd awarded £1 million Innovate UK Grant to continue their work to reduce bias in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) models

SWANSEA, UK. Wyser are pleased to announce that they have secured a grant for over £1 million for the second phase of a UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) backed programme, to support the responsible adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Wyser is partnering with the University of Bath, Citizens Advice Scotland, Acas, and AdviceUK for this project.

The main goal of the program is to reduce bias in Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems - commonly known as voice recognition systems - and here’s why that matters.

More than half of households in the UK with internet access use voice assistant devices like Amazon Alexa. These devices rely on ASR models, which use Natural Language Processing (NLP) at their core. Natural Language Processing is a type of AI which allows machines to communicate using natural language – so how we speak every day.

These models are increasingly used to help organisations interact with their customers and therefore the accuracy of those models is crucial for making decisions that can have far-reaching impacts on people’s lives. 

Linguistic bias occurs when the ASR model misinterprets what someone says due to factors like accent, dialect, or speech impairment. By identifying and addressing these biases, Wyser will be supporting any organisation looking to use this form of AI to offer more accessible, fair and inclusive services.

Statement from Wyser

Mark Pearce, CEO of Wyser states: “We are incredibly excited and proud to have been awarded this additional grant from Innovate UK. This study will enable us to take our research into bias within ASR models to the next level, developing refined models, trained on substantial sets of diverse language data, to create more trustworthy and reliable AI products that can be used by a range of sectors, including those in the advice sector.”

Statement from the University of Bath

Dr Harish Tayyar Madabushi, Lecturer in Artificial Intelligence, University of Bath states: “I’m personally very pleased that we’ve been successful in this grant application and excited to be working on this project. Bias within speech recognition tools is a well-known issue. With many people accessing critical, life-impacting support services around areas such as employment, housing, health and immigration, the outputs of this project will have a real and immediate benefit.”

Statement from AdviceUK

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of AdviceUK, said: “As the largest support network for independent advice organisations in England, Scotland and Wales, we are delighted to be providing Wyser with strategic advice on this exciting new project. Many of our 700 members are grappling with the opportunities and challenges that AI presents. By supporting this project, AdviceUK will be supporting members and the wider sector play its part in ensuring all individuals can access the advice they need, exercise their rights and deal with any legal and social welfare problems they may face.”

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth. We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions.

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation. For more information visit www.innovateuk.ukri.org

About Wyser

Wyser is passionate about realising the benefits of AI and Digital Transformation. Our focus is on improving productivity and increasing capacity to help organisations in the UK reduce backlogs, enhance data quality and improve customer experience.

At the heart of what we offer is a set of bespoke AI models trained on specific data sources. Our technical experts are supported by a team of highly experienced, digital transformation specialists that get right to the heart of the cultural drivers and then technical opportunities for transformation.