Definitions of AI uses

Descriptions for each technology use case

The following definitions were provided to survey respondents:

Facial recognition

Facial recognition technologies are AI technologies that can compare and match human faces from digital images or videos against those stored elsewhere.

The technology works by first being trained on many images, learning to pick out distinctive details about people’s faces.

These details, such as distance between the eyes or shape of the chin, are converted into a face-print, similar to a fingerprint.


Some organisations use AI technologies to help them decide whether someone is eligible for the programmes or services they offer.

These AI technologies draw on data from previous eligibility decisions to assess the eligibility of a new applicant.

The recommendations of the technology are then used by the organisation to make the decision.


AI technologies may be used by organisations to predict the risk of something happening.

When predicting the risk, these AI technologies draw on a wide range of data about the outcomes of many people to calculate the risk for an individual.

The recommendations these technologies make are then used by organisations to make decisions.

Targeted online advertising

Targeted advertising on the internet tailors adverts to a specific user. These kinds of ads are commonly found on social media, online news sites, and video and music streaming platforms.

The technology uses lots of data generated by tracking people’s activities online to learn about people’s characteristics, attitudes and interests.

The technology then uses this data to generate adverts tailored to each user.

Virtual assistant technologies

Virtual assistant technologies are devices or software that are designed to assist people with tasks like finding information online or helping to arrange appointments. The technologies can often respond to voice or text commands from a human.

The technologies work by being trained’ on lots of information about how people communicate through language, learning to match certain words and phrases to actions that they have been designed to carry out.


Robotic technologies are computer-assisted machines which can interact with the physical world automatically, sometimes without the need for a human operator.

These technologies use large amounts of data generated by machines, humans and sensors in the physical world to learn to’ carry out tasks that would previously have been carried out by humans.

Advancing knowledge through simulations

New computer technologies are being developed to advance human knowledge about the past and the future.

These technologies work by taking large amounts of data that we already have, and using this to create realistic simulations about how things were in the past, or how they might be in the future.

These simulation technologies’ aim to allow people to study and learn about places and events that would otherwise be impossible or difficult to directly experience.