Tuesday 14 March 2017
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are two major fields of research and innovation for the enterprise in 2017, and businesses in Manchester could be at the front of this new AI wave.
A recent survey conducted into the perceptions of AI found that almost half (48%) of IT decision markers in Manchester believe that AI is so beneficial that it’s needed in businesses now, a response rate which is double the national average (28%).
Yet the perceived perils of AI still garner an increasing amount of attention. The majority of people talk of a sci-fi dystopian take on AI, as some form of misunderstood threat to the future of humanity (dominated as it is with concerns of “singularity” and intelligent robots taking humans jobs). AI is not some far off technology that we need to be thinking of “preparing for” in some academic way. In fact many of us are carrying AI in our pockets, thanks to Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant or Microsoft’s Cortana on our mobile devices.
AI in Industry
The fact is that right now Artificial Intelligence and cognitive technologies will not truly replace human workforces. It is, rather, the most advanced form of human ingenuity in the history of technology: the study and practice of how we enable computers and machines to learn and to demonstrate intelligent behaviour. Instead of replacing jobs it is augmenting and assisting them in new ways, creating new industries and new jobs in its wake.
IT decision makers in Manchester are strongly of the opinion that Automation (23.8%) and Machine Learning (38.1%) are the most valuable areas of AI for local businesses in the more immediate future.
Unsurprisingly it’s these areas which is where AI is currently coming into its own. Industry’s with huge data volumes such as financial services and healthcare are already implementing AI, specifically for its machine learning and automation capabilities, to help process their un-structured and semi-structured data, to save it being done manually by a person. As a result AI is improving critical issues like fraud detection in banks and accelerating cancer research.
Machine Learning in Manchester
The benefits of AI aren’t going to stop any time soon, the latest research and innovations in the field promises immense benefits for industry and business in the very near future.
Some of the UK’s most prominent research institutions are leading the way in this burgeoning field. The School of Computer Science at The University of Manchester, for example, not only offers a three-year BSc degree course in Artificial Intelligence
, but is also a hub for some of the most important AI research in the world right now.
The University’s approach to learning and teaching about AI is also heavily practical, as the course information details how it, “[prepares] students for a career applying computer science in challenging applications,” with, “AI-specific topics covered including the key techniques of machine learning, which are built upon knowledge representation and reasoning.”
Perhaps most importantly, Manchester’s students work closely with industry, with many of the course themes sponsored by industrial partners to prepare them for their AI supported workplaces of the future.
With this strong research background, and business leaders already clamouring for AI technologies, it shows yet again that Manchester is leading the way for many UK organisations when it comes to technology innovation and adoption.