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Department of Computer Science and Technology

In a year that has brought Artificial Intelligence into public debate, it’s timely that a new research group has been set up in this Department to refocus attention on supporting Human Intelligence.

The Learning & Human Intelligence Group (LHI) aims to provide equitable and effective learning for all by bringing together experts in education, cognitive science and computer science.

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) now impacting so many aspects of our lives, the group’s emphasis on Human Intelligence is purposeful.

"Our focus is on optimising and exploiting technologies including AI to support human learning and the acquisition of critical human thinking," says Paula Buttery, Professor of Language and Machine Learning here. "These are the essential skills required to navigate a world overwhelmed with automatically-generated - and potentially false or unsound - information."

At the core of the group is the established expertise of three existing initiatives in this Department.

  • The Cambridge Institute for Automated Language Teaching and Assessment (ALTA) is a virtual institute that brings together researchers from Cambridge University Press & Assessment, this Department and the Department of Engineering. Using techniques from Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing, ALTA’s primary objective is to develop technology to enhance the experience of language learning and to develop cutting-edge approaches to automated assessment that will benefit learners and teachers worldwide. 
  • Ada Computer Science is a new, free online learning platform for teachers and students of computer science jointly developed by this Department and the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
  • And the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre is a joint initiative between the University of Cambridge and the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The primary aim of the Centre is to investigate how to engage all young people in computing, computer science, and associated subjects. 

Major research themes of the new Learning and Human Intelligence Group include the psychology of learning, longitudinal learning outcomes, human-computer interaction, the application and theoretical underpinning of large language models and the ethics of AI in education technology.

"The proliferation of AI emphasises further the importance of human learning," adds Paula. "Domain knowledge and critical thinking skills must be accessible to all in order for us to navigate our world.

"Our team of experts (which includes winners of international research competitions), not only apply Large Language Models to learning-based problems. They also further the state-of-the-art in contributing to their equitable use by researching how to interpret the models and build them efficiently."


Published by Rachel Gardner on Tuesday 17th October 2023


Photos in composite main image: left, David Matos / Unsplash. Right, Desola Lanre Ologun / Unsplash.