The 14th of April was a special evening at Imperial College London. More than 300 students, academics, entrepreneurs and industry professionals gathered together to learn a bit more about the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and the innovations we can expect in the years to come. Automatic Computer Assisted Medicine, Automatic Personal Assistants (PA), AI legal support or even self-driving cars are no longer a dream but a reality!
The keynote speaker of the night, Prof. Murray Shanahan, scientific advisor for the famous movie Ex-machina and Lecturer at Imperial College London, introduced us to the topic. He gave an excellent overview about the current optimism that goes hand in hand with AI and about AlphaGo’s (Deepmind) victory over Lee Sedol in the game of Go. A breakthrough comparable to the victory of Deep Blue (IBM) over Garry Kasparov almost 20 years ago. His talk raised very important ethic open questions such as how far we were from Human-level AI and how would it affect the human society as it is shaped today. When would that happen? That he wouldn’t say!
Following him, we had the opportunity to listen to some major companies in the field of AI. Dr. Jamie Shotton, Head of the machine learning perception group at Microsoft Cambridge, showed the intense effort the company is putting in improving communication for blind people as well as fostering the development of intelligent assistants for human to machine interactions. Dr. Peter Waggett, director of IBM Emerging Technology UK, talked about the success of IBM Watson’s platform for the analysis of unstructured data. A tool which is being used in many hospitals around the world and now supports clinician’s decision taking process among many other engineering field applications. To conclude this section, Jason Southern, senior architect from Nvidia GRID, provided the audience with an overview of how this new wave of deep learning is being powered using Nvidia products and how GPUs, formerly used almost exclusively by video gamers around the world, became key to support academic research groups and professionals in the field of AI, boosting processing speed several orders of magnitude.
The event continued with the contribution of two of the most representative start-ups of the UK AI scene. Dr. Ben Medlock, CTO and co-founder of Swiftkey, a mobile application that has been supporting the mobile communication of billions of devices worldwide by introducing intelligent text prediction, explained his experience and current collaboration with people with special communication needs, such as the one they are developing in conjunction with Stephen Hawkings. Following his words, we had the opportunity to listen to Ben Taylor, CEO of Rainbird, a company that enables people to take existing human business knowledge and combine it within the company workflow to maximize results.
The event concluded with an intense round table about ethics on AI, discussing about The Technological Singularity, AI as a thread and the impact of AI in the form of advance machine learning techniques is having in today’s technology (self-driving cars, data-driven medicine, assistance in everyday tasks, …). These topics raised a lot of interaction between the audience and the speakers, who continued with the conversation during the networking session and up until the closure.
Imperial College London Innovation Forum, alongside with the two other branches in London at King’s College and University College, are organizing IMAGINE IF! The first truly global competition and accelerator program for deep technology. If you have a science-based idea, you can participate in the workshops, open networking sessions and pitching events with top players in the local and global enterprise ecosystem. After the local pitching competitions take place, the best 15 global teams will pitch at the Innovation Forum Leaders Conference 2016 in Cambridge (UK), on the 21st-22nd September.