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The transformational power of AI

LIDA is the cross-faculty institute of the University which deals with data science and artificial intelligence (AI). AI is concerned with replicating human intelligence in a machine, and machine learning works by using data. So there’s a real congruence between these two areas. LIDA is a great example of this kind of collaboration at the University. It’s a real melting pot of different people and cross-faculty collaborations for research but also for benefits to everyday life.

The term Artificial Intelligence was coined in the 1950s, but humans were talking about intelligent machines long before that. The problem was that early AI systems weren’t very robust in most areas. However there’s been a resurgence in AI in the last few years, mainly due to machine learning, and deep learning in particular. Machine Learning has really transformed the area and dramatically improved levels of performance, leading to the potential for countless uses and benefits in everyday life.

Within the University of Leeds, AI is used cross-faculty, with examples ranging from atmospheric modelling for weather predictions in the Faculty of Earth & Environment, which we look at in this case study, to autonomous (or semi–autonomous) driving technology in Transport Studies. Researchers within the School of Computing have played an important role in providing knowledge and expertise in the area of AI, and although this won’t stop, increasingly this expertise will be spread all over the University – just as statisticians are embedded in many faculties. With LIDA’s support, AI techniques will become immersed across the University for the benefit of students, researchers, academics and wider society.

In society at large, the potential applications of AI are immense. It’s fair to say that almost every sector will be transformed in one way or another by AI technology. Nowhere is this more so than in the health domain, where research is demonstrating new ways for AI to be used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The University and LIDA are playing a major role in this. We will all benefit from this research as the technology becomes part of everyday clinical practice. LIDA is also home to our UKRI doctoral training centre in AI for Medical Diagnosis and Care, where we are training the researchers of tomorrow to contribute to the transformation of health care using AI.

Professor David Hogg, Professor of Artificial Intelligence.

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