"In the 18th and 19th centuries the City of Sheffield was a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution.  We now want to put Sheffield at the centre of the AI revolution"

Professor Guy Brown, Interim Director for the CMI

Our Mission

Research at the University of Sheffield, spearheaded by our flagship institutes, is already tackling some of the grand challenges facing the world today, around energy, sustainable food, neuroscience, healthcare and advanced manufacturing.  Now imagine the tremendous possibilities if we "power-up" that research with AI.  

Since AI is a general-purpose technology, similar to other general-purpose technologies such as electricity, the computer and the Internet, it has the potential to be utilised across all fields and transform the research landscape. 

By carefully integrating AI into existing research problems, and with better access to data, we believe researchers at Sheffield can lead the way in a new era of scientific discovery and innovation that is beneficial to the region and beyond.

However, while there are many benefits, we also need to consider the challenges and risks that AI presents.  These include:

  • AI's interdisciplinary nature -  there are problems of skills shortages and questions about how to bring AI knowledge, tools and expertise to different application areas so that AI can be effectively embedded in research.  

  • The social and ethical implications of AI -  there are big questions such as: how can we ensure that new AI systems are safe and secure?  That their use does not exclude certain sections of society? That algorithms are fair and transparent?  The impact on jobs?  How will society adapt?

If we are to unlock the full potential of AI we need to bring together people, ideas and resources, from across many different disciplines and from across different institutions and organisations. We will need to build an environment that supports world-leading and responsible AI-driven research and one that is equipped to train the next generation of researchers. We will also need to build new systems and relationships to better connect our researchers with external partners and their real-world needs.  

To realise this ambition the University of Sheffield has invested £3.6m in a new centre - the Centre for Machine Intelligence.

Strategic aims

The CMI is working to address the following aims:

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Supporting leadership in AI research

We will support areas of AI research excellence to ensure that they have effective leadership and a pipeline of future leaders, through the appointment of a director, theme leads and the creation of a fellowship scheme.

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A new approach for AI research engineering

The CMI has a new AI Research Engineering team that will develop standardised open-source tools, following FAIR principles, providing training and AI software infrastructure for accelerating research across the University and beyond.

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Building Sheffield's AI strategy

Under the leadership of the Director and with support from the AI Research Engineering Lead, the four theme leads, and the new advisory board, the CMI will develop the University of Sheffield's AI strategy.

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Creating a vibrant and inclusive research environment

The CMI will create and sustain a vibrant research environment which is closely linked with the Flagship Institutes, other centres and the Sheffield City Region. As part of this we will support and help to grow an active, diverse and inclusive AI community. We will bring together researchers developing AI tools and techniques with researchers tackling the social and ethical questions surrounding the use of AI.

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World leader in interdisciplinary AI research

The new Centre for Machine Intelligence (CMI) will raise our profile and establish Sheffield as a world leader in interdisciplinary AI research.

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Training the next generation

The CMI will provide new AI courses to train the next generation: for students in all disciplines to gain the skills they need to use AI in their work.