Artificial Intelligence

Cambridge University researchers to develop new artificial intelligence technology



Alya Zayed

By Alya Zayed


Pictured above: The University of Cambridge. (Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire).

Cambridge researchers are to develop new artificial intelligence (AI) technology thanks to a government cash boost.

Dr José Hernández Lobato, from the University of Cambridge, will develop AI technology to improve drug discovery with more than £1.2 million in funding from the government announced last Friday.

He will develop AI capable of designing new molecules required for the development of technology. This could enable more efficient, effective drug discovery.

Dr Hernández Lobato said: “The discovery of new molecules can bring enormous technological and societal progress.

“However, identifying the few molecules with useful properties among the many irrelevant ones is very expensive.

“As an example, pharmaceutical companies spend on average up to billions on each new drug.

“I will contribute to reducing these huge costs by creating new deep learning methods for automatic molecular design.”

The government’s new Turing AI fellowships, named after the World War II mathematician and pioneer Alan Turing, aim to support researchers across the country to develop new technologies.

He added: “The Turing AI Acceleration Fellowship will help me achieve this ambitious goal by providing resources for growing my research team and for establishing connections with key academic and industrial partners.”

Dr Adrian Weller, also at the University of Cambridge, is also receiving funding to advance the application of AI in sectors such as criminal justice and healthcare through, for example, improving the consistency and efficiency of judicial decisions and improving patient outcomes.

Dr Weller said: “Machine learning and AI present tremendous opportunities for society, but also raise important concerns.

“I am thrilled to secure this fellowship to help build the foundations for the trustworthy deployment of machine learning systems, which is key to enable us to enjoy the benefits of responsible AI.

“I will focus on technical measures to increase fairness, interpretability and robustness, grounded in real-world applications in healthcare and criminal justice.”

Other ground-breaking AI projects set to benefit from the £20 million funding include research into processing large volumes of data quickly while keeping energy consumption low, supporting sectors like energy, healthcare and finance where there is growing demand for data.

Science minister Amanda Solloway said the UK was the “birthplace of artificial intelligence” and therefore the government had a duty to equip the “next generation of Alan Turings”.

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She added: “Cambridge has a rich tradition of innovating and these inspiring AI projects we are backing today to help improve drug discovery and introduce AI in new sectors such as criminal justice, could transform how we live and work, while cementing the UK’s status as a world leader in AI and data.”

The fellowship scheme will be delivered by 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.

Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, EPSRC executive chair, 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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