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7 April, 2020 - 15:13 By Kate Sweeney

DeepMind Cambridge ML professor asks: ‘AI winter’ or the wonder years?

Are we on the cusp of an AI winter with artificial intelligence cooling off after a red-hot rise? And will the promise of AI be delivered without heavy recruitment in more ML specialists?

The issues will be addressed by former Amazon ace and the first DeepMind Machine Learning Professor at Cambridge University, Neil Lawrence, in a Cambridge Network virtual lecture on April 21.

The Network's first online business lecture – introduced to combat the coronavirus lockdown – looks at both AI and machine learning and asks what the future holds. 

Professor Lawrence recently left Amazon to join the university as the first DeepMind-funded professor of machine learning and was quoted in a recent BBC news article ‘Researchers: Are we on the cusp of an ‘AI winter?’ which explored whether or not the AI industry was set for a downturn after a decade or so of hype. 

Not unnaturally, Professor Lawrence believes that AI is still very much still in the "wonder years.” 

He says: “AI and machine learning have the potential to reshape almost every aspect of our lives but we desperately need more machine learning specialists or else the promise of AI will not be realised.”  

One of the avenues Professor Lawrence seeks to explore in his new role is exploring machine learning approaches in Africa, which could also hold benefits for the developed world.

He says: “With data and machine learning, you can have a more advanced data infrastructure in Africa than in some developed countries. It’s rare in the UK or Europe that you’re asked to look at a machine learning problem from end to end but you can do that in Africa – and it leads to better solutions. That’s the kind of approach I want to take to machine learning in my work at Cambridge University.”

The lecture will take place from 12.30pm-1.30pm on Tuesday 21st April. You need to sign up to take part and participants will be sent a link to join via Zoom prior to the start time. For more details and to sign-up visit the Cambridge Network website.

Google-owned AI research business DeepMind donated almost £4 million to Cambridge University last year to fund this new position along with a series of PhD and Masters positions.

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