Lancaster statistician to develop revolutionary new AI for use in autonomous cars and cybersecurity

A Lancaster University researcher will conduct ground-breaking Artificial Intelligence (AI) research to revolutionise the use of AI in autonomous vehicles and cybersecurity, as part of a prestigious Turing AI Acceleration Fellowship.

As technology advances, there is a growing need to collect vast quantities of data easily and inexpensively, and to use these data to deliver significant benefits across a wide range of applications such as energy consumption and public health.

A key challenge in AI research is to extract meaningful value from these data sources to make decisions that can be trusted and understood to improve the way society functions. Dr Christopher Nemeth, of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Lancaster University and member of the Data Science Institute, aims to develop an ‘end-to-end framework’, from data collection to decision-making, that naturally accounts for data, modelling and decision uncertainties to provide transparent and interpretable decision-making tools with a wide range of uses.

“This research will develop new AI-powered tools capable of automatically gleaning deeper insights from complex data,” says Dr Nemeth. “Our research will lead to new ways of assessing the safety of driverless vehicles for UK roads, as well as developing new AI systems to enhance the UK’s cybersecurity.

“This Turing AI Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for our research team to collaborate closely with key strategic partners, including GCHQ and the Transport Research Laboratory, and will help support the UK’s leading position in AI development.”

The research programme, called Probabilistic Algorithms for Scalable and Computable Approaches to Learning (PASCAL) offers new ways of unlocking the tremendous potential for innovation and technological development in AI. This can be achieved through the development of probabilistic algorithms to provide deep and critical insight into the increasingly large and complex data sources that fuel our everyday lives.

This research will be undertaken in collaboration with project partners: Transport Research Laboratory, the Heilbronn Institute of Mathematical Research, GCHQ, the University of Washington and engagement with the Alan Turing Institute.

Funded with a £20 million cash boost from the Government, the prestigious Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships will give fifteen of the UK’s top AI researchers the resources to work with academia and industry to drive forward their ground-breaking research and technologies and bring their innovations to the real world, from speeding up medical diagnoses to increasing workplace productivity. These pioneering projects could enable the UK to meet some of its most pressing challenges such as reducing carbon emissions, while helping to transform industries across the UK economy, including healthcare, energy and transport.

As a result of government investment, Fellows will work with academia and industry to help elevate their world class research and transfer their innovations from the lab to the real world. These innovations have the potential to change how people live, work and communicate, helping to place the UK at the forefront of the AI and data revolution.

Science Minister, Amanda Solloway said: “The UK is the birthplace of artificial intelligence and we therefore have a duty to equip the next generation of Alan Turings, like Lancaster’s Dr Christopher Nemeth, with the tools that will keep the UK at the forefront of this remarkable technological innovation.

“The inspiring project we are backing today will use AI to help inform decision making in key sectors, from cybersecurity to autonomous vehicles, transforming the way we live and work, while cementing the UK’s status as a world leader in AI and data.”

Digital Minister, Caroline Dineage, said: “The UK is a nation of innovators and this government investment will help our talented academics use cutting-edge technology to improve people’s daily lives – from delivering better disease diagnosis to managing our energy needs.”

The fellowships form part of a major government investment in AI skills and research, including sixteen Centres for Doctoral Training in AI and conversion courses to train the next generation of AI experts, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in October 2019.

Named after British AI pioneer, Alan Turing, the £20 million fellowship scheme will be delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), in partnership with the Alan Turing Institute and Office for Artificial Intelligence.

EPSRC Executive Chair Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said: “The Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships will support some of our leading researchers to progress their careers and develop ground-breaking AI technologies with societal impact.

“By enhancing collaboration between academia and industry and accelerating these transformative technologies they will help to maintain and build on the UK’s position as a world leader in AI.”

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