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AI and Data Grand Challenge

Embedding AI across the UK will create thousands of high-quality jobs and drive economic growth – potentially contributing an estimated £232bn to the UK economy by 2030.

One year ago, the UK Government launched its modern Industrial Strategy: a long-term plan to boost productivity by backing businesses to create good jobs and increase the earning power of people throughout the country. And we are embracing the challenges that our world presents to us.

We’re focusing on four key areas where Britain can lead the world in the coming technological revolution. These ‘Grand Challenges’ – in the artificial intelligence and data-driven revolution, the global shift to clean growth, the future of mobility (in the way that people, goods and services move around the world), and the opportunity of our ageing society – are being tackled by the best from the public and private sector. Doing so will put the UK at forefront of the industries of the future.

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are general purpose technologies already starting to transform the global economy. They can be seen as new industries in their own right, but they are also transforming business models across many sectors – from helping doctors diagnose medical conditions more effectively to allowing people to communicate across the globe using instantaneous speech recognition and translation software.

Embedding AI across the UK will create thousands of good quality jobs and drive economic growth. And the opportunity is huge. Embedding AI across the UK will create thousands of high-quality jobs and drive economic growth – potentially contributing an estimated £232bn to the UK economy by 2030. 

Our early priorities for the AI and Data Grand Challenge are: 

  • Making the UK a global centre for AI and data-driven innovation 
  • Supporting sectors to boost productivity through AI and Data 
  • Leading the world on safe, ethical use of AI giving confidence and clarity to citizens and businesses 
  • Helping people develop the skills needed for jobs of the future

Recent progress: expert advisers appointed to shape the work of the world’s first Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

In a major coup to cement the UK’s position as a world-leader in the development of artificial intelligence, on 20 Nov 2018, the Digital Secretary, Jeremy Wright, confirmed Robert Winston, Dame Patricia Hodgson and Kriti Sharma are among the expert advisers appointed to shape the work of the world’s first Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

The Centre is chaired by the founder of healthcare data firm Dr Foster, Roger Taylor. It has been established to make sure the UK is leading the debate on how data-driven technologies are used for the maximum benefit of society.

As part of our approach we are developing ambitious missions to tackle these Grand Challenges. In the AI and Data Grand Challenge, we will use data, artificial intelligence and innovation to transform the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030. 

In the field of cancer research, our ambition is that within 15 years we will be able to diagnose at a much earlier stage the lung, bowel, prostate or ovarian cancer of at least 50,000 people a year. Through the great diagnostics, treatment and care provided by our NHS, that will mean every year around 20,000 fewer people will die within five years of their diagnosis compared to today.

An example of AI: Pioneering artificial intelligence ultrasound technology

Support with Government funding, ScanNav is the first CE marked AI system to undertake an automated, real-time “peer review” of obstetric ultrasound images as the patient is scanned.

Oxford-based Intelligent Ultrasound’s ScanNav, part of the MedaPhor Group, is harnessing AI to make ultrasound machines smarter, so they can help newly qualified sonographers and doctors become more confident in their practice and clinical decisions, which on their own, might be more difficult to make.

MedaPhor’s vision is to harness the power of AI algorithms to make ultrasound simpler to use and easier to learn by providing guidance and support to medical professionals whilst they are scanning patients.

The technology uses machine learning to train a computer to recognise features in an ultrasound image to create a “mental description” of the relevant anatomy, and uses AI intelligence to perform a ‘real-time’ review of ultrasound images while the patient is scanned.

To teach ScanNav’s AI algorithms, Intelligent Ultrasound collaborates with leading medical institutions to create large libraries of real ultrasound images that cover as wide a variety of anatomical variants as possible. This allows the AI models it creates to extract salient features that allow them to distinguish normal from abnormal.

A number of image-processing techniques to improve performance have been developed. The combination of these, the size of ScanNav’s image libraries, and the expertise from the company’s clinical team, puts Intelligent Ultrasound in a leading position to create products that support clinical decision making. These will not only reduce scanning time whilst ensuring quality images for accurate patient diagnosis, but also expand the use of ultrasound across healthcare services by giving non-specialist practitioners the support they need to utilise this valuable diagnostic tool.

First trials of the system are taking place in St George’s Hospital in London and the RUH in Bath.

Initial studies show the system, which will be used to train sonographers, is as good as an expert sonographer in providing peer review of images. In future, it could allow medical staff who have not been trained in interpreting ultrasound images to carry out scans.

ScanNav supports the NHS Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme which aims to improve pregnancy outcomes.

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