UK scientists to supercharge Artificial Intelligence in revolutionary £80 million national initiative

The University of Glasgow is helping to put the UK at the forefront of AI advances, using it to transform current uses and tackle important global challenges.

The University of Glasgow is helping to put the UK at the forefront of AI advances, using it to transform current uses and tackle important global challenges.

Leading mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists across the UK have joined a new national mission to realise this potential, taking AI applications to uncharted heights in various settings, spanning healthcare, pandemics, cities, finance, and the environment.

The University of Bristol is setting up two national AI research hubs to develop key research, expertise, and innovations which will make AI an even more versatile, trustworthy tool. This is possible due to £21 million funding from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The hubs, led by eight universities but working nationwide, seek to ensure the UK retains a leading role in AI research, innovation, and ethical deployment.

Professor Alison Heppenstall is representing the University of Glasgow for the AI4CI Hub, a collaboration involving the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Ulster and University College London (UCL). She will lead the Smart Cities hub, based in the University of Glasgow’s department of Urban Studies.

The AI for Collective Intelligence (AI4CI) hub will generate new AI to leverage intelligence that is distributed across populations of people and devices in order to improve both individual and collective decision making. This already occurs naturally when people share, compare, and filter information, but new AI offers the possibility to harness this kind of collective intelligence at scale, delivering support and guidance tailored for individuals and national agencies alike.

For example, identifying trends within the experiences of diabetes patients could be used to provide bespoke anticipatory guidance direct to patients via smart agents. There is also potential for innovations to be deployed to improve NHS policies for supporting patients with appropriate treatments and technologies. This would enable patients to manage their own condition more effectively, helping them avoid acute episodes that require hospitalisation.

AI also has capacity to assist during major threats to public health. For instance, the Hub’s Pandemic Resilience theme will reconsider the modelling and analyses undertaken during the Covid-19 pandemic, exploring how new AI approaches could improve centralised policy making and empower individual decisions during a future pandemic.

Professor Alison Heppenstall said: "Working in collaboration with CASA @UCL, the Smart Cities hub will allow new insights and an understanding of the future challenges facing cities to be developed through the use of simulation and AI approaches."

Hub Director Professor Seth Bullock, Toshiba Chair in Data Science at the University of Bristol, said: "Our Hub’s main aim is to put useful AI in the hands of regular people, especially those who might otherwise not benefit from it. Modern AI is driven by huge amounts of data collected from us and Collective Intelligence research is about enabling us to benefit directly from the AI systems that data fuels. We can’t wait to get started."

Professor Charlotte Deane, Executive Chair of EPSRC, said: "Artificial intelligence is already transforming our world. EPSRC supports world-leading research to unlock its potential and ensure it is developed and used in an ethical and responsible way. Long-term research funding has led to revolutionary advancements that have made AI a powerful tool for many applications.

"These hubs will deliver revolutionary AI innovations and tools in sectors from healthcare to energy, smart cities and environment. They will achieve this by solving key challenges and improving our understanding of AI helping to drive the increased productivity and economic growth promised by this technology."