University of Sheffield artificial intelligence expert set to supercharge UK’s AI sector

  • University of Sheffield professor selected to join UK’s Council for Artificial Intelligence
  • Independent expert committee – consisting of leaders from business, academia and data privacy – set to put the country at the forefront of the industries of the future
  • AI Council aims to promote the adoption and ethical use of AI by businesses and organisations across the country
  • Professor Neil Lawrence, a world-renowned expert in machine learning, is working with industry to improve how AI and machines make predictions based on user inputs and behaviour

An artificial intelligence (AI) expert from the University of Sheffield is set to help boost the growth of AI in the UK and put the country at the forefront of the industries of the future as part of an independent committee advising government on the fast-growing technology.

Professor Neil LawrenceProfessor Neil Lawrence, a world-renowned expert on machine learning from the University’s Department of Computer Science, has been selected to join the UK’s Council for Artificial Intelligence.

Joining other leaders from business, academia and data privacy organisations, the independent expert committee is set to promote the adoption and ethical use of AI by businesses and organisations across the country.

Launched following the government’s Industrial Strategy, which calls for AI and data to be used across a variety of industries, the committee will help put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution as well as help to realise the full potential of AI to the economy.

Professor Lawrence is a Professor of Machine Learning at the University and co-host of the AI podcast, Talking Machines. His research focuses on machine learning through probabilistic models – when AI and machines are able to make predictions based on user actions and behaviours.

He works on both the algorithmic side of these models and their application. His recent focus has been on deploying machine learning in practice in industry, particularly under the banner of data science.

The Sheffield AI expert is currently working in industry with Amazon, where he is a Director of Machine Learning.

On joining the committee, Professor Lawrence said: "Machine learning has been at the heart of the recent revolution in AI technology. The AI Council is going to be critical in ensuring the UK gains the benefits of this important new technology. I'm very excited to be able to contribute."

The UK’s Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright will announce the line-up of the Council during his speech at the Vivatech Summit in Paris, where he will speak about the importance of responsible technology and bang the drum for British technology, in particular highlighting the innovation taking place in the UK’s ‘tech for good’ sector.

The AI Council intends to cultivate and encourage a much wider representation of experts to focus on specific topics which will initially include data and ethics, adoption, skills and diversity. This will allow the broader AI community to work together to drive towards solutions and make the UK a leader in the AI and data revolution.

Confirmation of the AI Council's membership comes on the first anniversary of the AI Sector Deal, a billion-pound joint government and industry deal to put the nation at the forefront of emerging technologies.

The University of Sheffield’s Department of Computer Science is world-leading for research into artificial intelligence and related technologies. Its world class researchers, together with its talented graduates, develop and contribute to ground breaking technologies to protect and enhance people’s lives.

Artificial intelligence researchers and students at Sheffield study everything from machine learning and natural language processing to speech, hearing and visual computing.

Additional information

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The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Sean Barton
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852