11 SEPTEMBER 2020
Stationers, Marketors and Information Technologists gathered virtually to hear a panel of experts talk about The Power of AI to deliver Economic and Social Good
This event was undertaken via Zoom and recorded so you can watch it by clicking the image below if you missed out.
The event was moderated by Roz Morris, Managing Director of TV News London Ltd and the panellists were Maxine Ricketts, Chairman of AI4C, Dr Christina Messiou, Consultant Radiologist at The Royal Marsden Hospital and Honorary Faculty at The Institute of Cancer Research, Jonathan Sinclair, Associate Director of Cyber Security for Bristol Myers Squibb and Ben Gancz, CEO Qumodo.
Liveryman Andrew Marsden has provided an overview. He writes:
As a Stationer, a Past Master Marketor and Chair of the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies, of which the Information Technologists are members, you couldn’t have had a more interested listener joining the 200 other people at this year’s excellent virtual Tri-Livery Roundtable.
We hear so much about how AI will change the way we work in the future, how it will cause structural unemployment amongst the lower middle class repetitive professional jobs and of those in low skilled areas, but this evening’s panel, expertly chaired by Marketor Roz Morris, revealed that Artificial Intelligence is not only already well established in our lives but is often a force for good.
Maxine Ricketts, Chair of ‘AI4C’ created by the WCIT to help charities, gave us a simple working definition of AI…’Any computer system that performs tasks previously performed by humans’ usually by using a big data reference table. She told us that charities are already triaging incoming calls using chatbots to answer simple questions and focus enquiries, getting to deeper issues quicker and amassing data faster than humans.
Dr Christina Messiou the distinguished radiological researcher, in a riveting presentation, showed how AI is driving forward innovative imaging for the benefit of oncology patients. She showed how Myeloma patients (bone marrow cancer) are benefitting from whole body MRI imaging to accurately detect the disease. The process is non-invasive, with no injections or radiation and reduces the time from 30 to 2.5 minutes. She reminded us however of the significant shortage of both qualified people and investment, with only 1/10 NHS treatment centres currently able to deliver this analysis. This emerging form of ‘Precision Medicine’, using algorithms to measure disease beyond that possible by human experience, will need a digital ready workforce – informaticians, data scientists and medically qualified programmers.
Jonathan Sinclair, of Bristol Myers Squibb, told us how organised crime are ever more active meaning that AI-driven cyber security is required to deliver the scale, speed and high levels of accuracy necessary to defend our networks and drive the global information security programmes now required.
Ben Gancz a former Met Police/NCA detective who specialised in child protection, which is both psychologically demanding and repetitive work for humans, then told us of the ‘human-in-the-loop’ AI systems and automatic image classifiers which detect indecent images of children that he has developed and which have the benefits of not suffering fatigue, of getting ‘accustomed’ to images or suffering psychological harm which can automatically look at millions of images in support of the ultimate human decision.
As is aften the case, the question and answer session which followed was revealing. AI - more accurately referred to as ‘machine learning’ or ‘scale computing’ as machines are not ‘conscious’ except in science fiction- will unquestionably deliver improvements and efficiencies in our lives but does raise some profound societal questions.
The use of AI will require the digital ‘Upskilling’ of existing workforces, or their reallocation towards more added value roles rather than repetitive tasks . A lot of junior staff roles will disappear. Many new job titles will emerge, especially those related to training and validating the algorithms used. Of the need to avoid data riddled with unconscious biases, detecting and removing obtrusive data and moving ‘black box’ solutions to more ‘white box’ transparent ones.
Then there are the issues of the collation of mass data points and of ensuring personal privacy by anonymising the data. Legislation, even in local geographies, is always slow to catch up. Who will regulate this emerging global phenomenon is as yet unclear.
As ever, we were reminded that the key issue with any computer system will remain the need to clearly define the problem we are actually trying to solve.
Ben Gancz concluded the evening by reassuring us that all the research still shows that ‘People do like speaking to another human being’. Thus ended an altogether fascinating evening.