#DDIdiscussion Event Summary | Data-driven Innovation in AI

Data-driven innovation can power artificial intelligence (AI) to provide solutions to a range of societal challenges, a DDI webinar heard.

 

Roy Donaldson, a Technical Solutions Architect at Cisco Systems, told delegates at the event,  The role of data-driven innovation in AI, that asking which business sectors were embracing AI was the wrong question.

 He said: “We need to focus on what AI can deliver. What are the challenges and what are the solutions AI can provide? People do not consume AI, they consume collaborative technology.”

Steph Wright, AI Strategy Lead at innovation centre the DataLab, said one area where AI could make a big difference was in healthcare – by “augmenting and assisting the healthcare system to make things quicker and better for patients”.

Professor Michael Rovatsos, Director of The Bayes Centre, the University of Edinburgh’s innovation hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, agreed healthcare was one area where data-driven innovation (DDI) and AI could work together effectively – alongside sectors like energy and tourism, where Scotland had strong data assets and real expertise.

He felt Scotland was punching above its weight in AI, with universities playing a key role as the source of new innovations and novel technologies. “There are fears about the risks of AI and universities are seen as trusted and independent,” he added.

On the relationship between DDI and AI, he said: “AI is much more about better decision-making rather than better information.”

Prof Rovatsos felt Scotland was punching above its weight in DDI and AI, with universities playing a key role as the source of new innovations and novel technologies. “There are fears about the risks of AI and universities are seen as trusted and independent,” he added.

However, he warned of an extremely competitive global environment in both data innovation and AI and urged Scotland to shout louder about its successes.

Roy Donaldson agreed, saying: “Big businesses are not looking locally for talent – they are looking for locations to gain access to high-quality talent. Scotland punches above its weight but it is a small county and that limits the quantity of talent.”

Helen Hastie, Professor of Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University and Academic Lead for the National Robotarium, said: “AI is fundamental for intelligent robotics. Robots need to be able to interact safely and adapt to dynamic environments.”

All speakers agreed collaboration between all parties was vital to ensure Scotland made the best of its strengths in both DDI and AI. Professor Haste said Scotland was “very joined-up” and it had to be, because everyone accepted data could not be kept in silos any more.

Prof Rovatsos said it was vital to get even closer to the decision-makers and help them understand how they could deploy technologies like DDI and AI most effectively.

Steph Wright, who was closely involved in developing Scotland’s AI Strategy, said “We are building on storing foundations. We have a long history of academic research in AI.” But she added: “AI is not standalone. We need data, we need to join everything up.”

Watch the event back here. 

 

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