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Features: Faculty Insights


The Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Peter Kyle MP, visited Cambridge in January 2024 to discuss AI policy and innovation.

The Shadow Secretary of State met with experts on AI from the University and from industry, discussing both the challenges it presents, and the enormous potential for AI to serve science, people, and society. 

The visit took place at Cambridge Innovation Capital and was hosted by Innovate Cambridge – an initiative bringing together partners across the city region to deliver an inclusive future for Cambridge and its science and technology cluster. The first two sessions of the day were convened by AI@Cam, the University’s flagship AI mission which is working to meet the challenges and opportunities of these new technologies as they emerge. 

Policy and public services

The opening roundtable included Professor Sir John Aston, Harding Professor of Statistics in Public Life in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, and a former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Home Office (read more about John Aston’s work here). Alongside other University academics including Professor Dame Diane Coyle, Director of the Bennett Institute of Public Policy, and Professor Neil Lawrence, DeepMind Professor of Machine Learning, the discussion included expert analysis on AI policy challenges as well as the role AI can play in public service reform. 

Discussion topics included how governance systems need to evolve for the AI era, and how an increasingly complex information infrastructure can be managed. In addition, the roundtable considered the opportunity that AI presents for improving public services and breaking down siloed decision-making within government.

AI research to benefit society

The day also included a series of 'flash talks', focused on areas where research in AI is delivering benefits to society. These included work by the University's Department of Architecture on a new deep-learning model which makes it far easier and cheaper to identify 'hard-to-decarbonise' houses and develop strategies to improve their green credentials, and work in the Department of Psychiatry, using AI systems to speed up the diagnosis of mental health conditions in children.

In the afternoon, Mr Kyle met with leaders representing civic institutions, academia and business organisations from across the city. They spoke about their shared vision and strategy for the region to ensure Cambridge remains a globally leading innovation centre, and a collective desire to deliver benefits both locally and across the UK.

You can read more about examples of some of the research within the Mathematics Faculty on harnessing the potential of AI to support healthcare and biodiversity globally in our features Developing new AI tools to diagnose Alzheimers, Unlocking the potential of blood tests and Understanding the diversity of forests using AI

This article is adapted from a University of Cambridge news release.