Queen Mary University of London: Queen Mary officially launches its Digital Environment Research Institute

The event brought together several artificial intelligence experts, staff, students and special guests to Queen Mary to explore the University’s role in supporting the National AI Strategy, tapping into its AI expertise for the benefit of industry, government, and society.

Released in 2021, the National AI Strategy marks the opportunity to put the technology at the heart of the UK’s development as a global science and innovation superpower, and apply AI to the greatest challenges of this century.

Queen Mary’s event featured a lively discussion event with the expert panel assembled, including the University’s Professor Greg Slabaugh, Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Director and Chief Executive of The Alan Turing Institute, Sana Khareghani, Head of UK Government Office for AI, Garry Pairaudeau, Chief Technology Officer of Exscientia AI Ltd, and Shahed Alghrsi, a Queen Mary student in machine learning for visual data analytics. The Q&A session covered an extensive range of topics, such as how DERI fits into the AI Strategy, creating a skilled workforce to drive AI’s progress, advice for AI start-ups, and the areas in which AI might have the most transformative effect.

This was followed by an opportunity for guests to visit the recently renovated Empire House, the home of DERI located on Queen Mary’s Whitechapel campus. There, those in attendance were able to witness various displays demonstrating the University’s cutting-edge AI research. This included robots that will hopefully one day work alongside humans, interactive data demonstrations linked to intelligent transport systems, an App that can predict violence among convicted offenders, online sound generation where guests could generate never-before heard noises, and a ‘Beat the AI’ computer game.

Speaking at the event, Professor Colin Bailey, President and Principal of Queen Mary University of London said: “Our Strategy sets out our aim to become the most inclusive university of our kind anywhere in the world, challenging existing knowledge and generating new breakthroughs, and engaging locally, nationally and internationally. The Strategy responds to the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle many of the world’s greatest challenges, in part, by committing to the creation of interdisciplinary University Research Institutes. The Digital Environment Research Institute is the first of these.

“This is a great day for Queen Mary and for digital and data science. And I am excited by what we will achieve in the coming months and years.”

Professor Greg Slabaugh, Director of the Digital Environment Research Institute (DERI) and Professor of Computer Vision and AI at Queen Mary added: “In the Digital Environment Research Institute, we have established an outstanding foundation for multi-disciplinary research, digital and data science. We are well on our way to building the critical mass needed to deliver ground-breaking research to address major challenges facing society.

“Our aims are now clear. First, to build on globally recognised expertise at Queen Mary and foster new multi-disciplinary collaborations involving digital and data science. Second, to use our physical and virtual space effectively to convene research delivering impact for society. Third, to support wider ambitions to maintain UK leadership in data science and AI by creating and sharing knowledge.”

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