The University of Glasgow has opened a new centre dedicated to cutting-edge research on data science and artificial intelligence across a wide range of applications.
The Centre for Data Science and AI brings together hundreds of academics from across the University’s four Colleges with the aim of tackling global grand challenges and creating a better future for all.
The Centre was officially opened during an event attended by the Richard Lochhead MSP, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade.
The event, held at the University’s Mazumdar-Shaw Advanced Research Centre, showcased some of the projects which are harnessing the power of data science and AI to deliver new advances across six programmes of research.
The cross-disciplinary programmes build upon existing expertise at the University, and target data and AI-driven advances in engineering and the physical sciences; medical, veterinary and life sciences; economic and social sciences; arts and the humanities; and innovation. The sixth programme will support fundamental research in data science and AI across the University.
The University is already a leader in the field of data science and AI, with related projects involving Glasgow researchers currently supported by more than £100m in funding.
The funding supports new advances in areas including precision medicine and digital health, data-driven solutions for health inequalities, quantum computing and simulation, big data collection and analysis to improve the quality of life in cities, and efforts to model and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Professor Ana Basiri, of the University of Glasgow’s College of Science and Engineering, is the Centre’s director. Professor Basiri said: “We were pleased to welcome Mr Lochhead to campus to learn about some of the work we’re doing to help tackle problems like climate change and inequality through data science and AI.
“The University established Scotland’s first computer lab in 1957 and installed DEUCE, our first electric computer, a year later. We’ve been working at the cutting edge of technology ever since, and data science and AI have become vitally important parts of many research projects across science, medicine, the arts and humanities, and social sciences.
“Having recognised potentials and impacts of AI, the UK Government recently made a billion-pound pledge to support new advances in supercomputers and artificial intelligence.
“Other governments, funders and companies around the world are making similarly large-scale investments in technologies which will shape our lives and our futures. The University of Glasgow is a key player in this landscape, and our new Centre will bring together experts from across disciplines to work more strategically to tackle the grand challenges of our time.
“In the years to come, we’ll be working to advance new research projects which help put data science at the heart of decisionmaking, to teach staff new skills to help them do their jobs more effectively, and to partner with industry to build new products and services using fresh insight gathered from their data streams. The Centre will also be act as a single gateway to governments to link in with wider ecosystem of AI across the UK and around the world.”
Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead said: “Most experts agree that the impact of artificial intelligence on our lives will be huge, and that if we do it right, AI can do a lot of good, from designing new drugs to tackling the climate emergency. Artificial intelligence has, however, triggered heated worldwide debate.
“We are working to make Scotland a world leader in the development and use of artificial intelligence in a way which is trustworthy, ethical and inclusive. To do so we must rise to the challenges and opportunities, which will be felt across our economy and society.
“The University of Glasgow has long been renowned for its technical innovation and research, and I am confident that the new Centre for Data Science and AI will build on this reputation. I look forward to the Centre fostering collaboration and showcasing effective, impactful, and ethical data science and AI, in keeping with the vision of Scotland’s AI Strategy.”
The event was also attended by Professor Mark Girolami, the chief scientist of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.
In April, the University of Glasgow joined The Turing University Network, a group of higher education institutions which is collaborating to use data science and AI for social good.
Professor Girolami said: "The data sciences and artificial intelligence technologies have enormous potential to contribute to solutions that tackle some of the global grand challenges we are currently facing.
“To deliver on this potential will require a coordinated, collective, sustained, and multi-disciplinary approach. The University of Glasgow's new Centre for Data Science and AI is a beacon of research excellence and innovation in Scotland to facilitate and coordinate the essential collaboration between the University’s world leading experts in AI locally, nationally, and internationally.
“This Centre's missions and vision are well aligned with the recently announced strategy of the Alan Turing Institute, enabling us to collectively harness the potential of these emerging technologies to shape a safer, more sustainable, and prosperous future for all."
Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, the University of Glasgow’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, added: “We are delighted to launch our new Centre for Data Science and AI, building on our world-class research and innovation to grow our expertise and reputation in these dynamic fields of research.
“This new Centre will bring together colleagues from a multitude of disciplines at the University to collaborate together. Our academics in science, engineering, medicine, humanities and social sciences will bring new perspectives to these fields, identifying and unlocking new opportunities to apply research in Data Science and AI for the benefit of society.”