“Big Brother is watching you” - but is it doing much more than that?

Neither Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence have all the answers. Nonetheless, huge developments are happening, and headway is being made. That was the takeaway message from Professor Richard Everson, Professor of Machine Learning at the University of Exeter, who visited Petroc to deliver a talk to Applegate Workplace Degree Students and Academy Students this week.

Alongside his academic teaching; part of Richard’s role also involves research into Machine Learning, his area of expertise. In addition to his work with the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, the Met Office and others, Professor Everson is working on an AI and ML project with Applegate – funded by a grant awarded by Innovate UK, the UK Government’s Innovation Agency. As part of our ethos to provide the best service possible for both buyers & suppliers, Applegate is driving technological development to improve the speed, accuracy and overall efficiency of RFQ matching.

Richard, using a range of examples, explained to students how this project and its machine learning technology works; by combining automation and classification, we aim to reach 80% accuracy. As Professor Everson explained; although AI may be ‘miles off’, we are currently generating great results from ‘specialised tasks’.

The lecture was not only beneficial in educating and inspiring members of the Workplace Degree Programme and Applegate Academy in a broad sense, but it was of particular use in helping to understand individual job roles, workplace activity and degree content.

Claire Knight one of the Workplace Degree Students said “I personally really enjoyed the lecture by Professor Everson and seeing how AI is being researched, used and tested to try and resolve different problems across the different sectors (for example the lameness in dairy cattle, locating the issues with the sewage pipes etc). I think AI is still quite a unknown area to the majority of the general public and seeing it put in context was brilliant".

So, although AI is yet to take over the world, it is certainly providing some interesting avenues for businesses and individuals to explore and generating some fantastic conversations as a result. After all, “Artificial Intelligence is a tool, not a threat” – Rodney Brooks.

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