Hands-on workshop helps UK lawmakers explain AI

Two team members from the Department of Computer Science’s Research Software Engineering team recently visited the House of Commons to deliver a training session on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to MPs.

Run by NVIDIA and innovation consultancy, Big Innovation Centre, at London’s Portcullis house, the neural network workshop included a session run by our academics to Members of Parliament, peers and government staff.

The workshop was part of the All Parties Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence, set up in January 2017 to explore the impact and implications of AI. The aim is to equip those making policy decisions about the future of AI with the relevant knowledge and understanding.

Growing the U.K.’s AI economy is the most important of four Grand Challenges which will improve people’s lives and the country’s productivity, according to the U.K. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
To shape the policies, regulations and budgets required to thrive in the age of AI, government stakeholders need help.

The session kicked off with an overview of the basic principles and vocabulary of AI from NVIDIA’s Stuart Wilson, who leads the company’s AI and supercomputing efforts in Europe.

Then participants got hands-on with a 30-minute Neural Network Lab, in which they were tutored through the steps of building their own neural network. Neural networks, computing algorithms modeled on the pathways of the brain, are the building blocks of modern AI.

Engineers from the University of Sheffield Research Software Engineering group guided participants through the process.

Attendees also heard speakers from U.K. organizations engaged in three sectors AI is already transforming: healthcare, transportation and smart cities.