UK Minister for Scotland visits Centre for Data Science & AI

Published: 2 November 2023

UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont visited the Mazumdar-Shaw Advanced Research Centre (ARC) to meet academics who are involved in the University’s new Centre for Data Science and AI.

UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont visited the Mazumdar-Shaw Advanced Research Centre (ARC) on Wednesday 1st November to meet academics who are involved in the University’s new Centre for Data Science and AI.

Coinciding with the UK Government’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Safety Summit 2023 at Bletchley Park, the Minister met with Vice-Principal for Research & Knowledge Exchange, Professor Chris Pearce, to learn how the Centre will bring together hundreds of academics from across the University’s four Colleges with the aim of tackling global grand challenges and creating a better future for all. 

Launched in September 2023 and led by Professor Ana Basiri, the Centre will facilitate the initiation and expansion of sustainable collaboration across disciplines, industries, public, and government to have impactful research.

Researchers from science, engineering, life sciences, medicine, arts, social sciences and humanities are working collectively on research and activity linked to better societal understanding of AI, including the ethics of AI and the potential applications of AI in settings including healthcare, security and intelligent computing.

John Lamont with Prof Chris Pearce

As part of his visit, Minister Lamont met with leading researchers, who gave an insight into the work they are doing through the Centre. Professor Nigel Jamieson from the School of Cancer Sciences, gave an overview of the use of AI in his spatial transcriptomics programme: a groundbreaking new approach to pathology which allows scientists to measure all the gene and cell activity in a tumour sample and map where the activity is taking place and how different cells are signalling to each other.

Using AI allows Professor Jamieson and his team to create an ‘atlas’ of a patient’s tumour, which can be analysed for patterns, and it is hoped in time this will lead to greater understanding of how cancer cells act in the body and interact with healthy cells. As a clinician he hopes that this spatial information will enable treatments to be targeted to patients who are most likely to benefit.

The Minister also met with Professor Rod Murray-Smith, Professor of Computing Science, who is developing a framework to better integrate the benefits of AI and machine learning with the needs and expectations of human users.

Professor Murray-Smith spoke of his collaboration with colleagues across the University in computing sciences and quantum technology, who earlier this year received a major ERC-funded grant to develop tools for designing and analysing human interaction with AI using a theoretical framework known as ‘active inference’.

This project aims to harness the potential of sensing technologies and rich data spaces to link human behaviour with reliable, predictable computer assistants capable of stepping in to offer more help when required and stepping back when humans choose to take full control.

The visit also provided the opportunity for the Minister to hear about the University’s ambitions to support the UK Government’s new Investment Zone across the Glasgow City Region. The University is working with partners across the city to drive sustainable economic growth, create new jobs and boost Scotland’s reputation in key sectors such as life sciences and MedTech through the Glasgow Riverside Innovation District (GRID).

The University of Glasgow has also committed to strengthening Scotland’s super-cluster of enabling technologies like AI, quantum, semiconductors, 5G/6G and wireless technologies, with the Minister learning about the opportunities to drive R&D in these high-potential sectors for Scotland.

UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont said: "As the UK Government's AI Safety Summit gets underway it was fascinating to tour Glasgow University’s new Centre for Data Science and AI and hear how researchers from diverse fields such as science, engineering, life and social sciences, medicine, arts and humanities plan to use AI to tackle global challenges, creating a better future for all. Together with other key partners we can help ensure that AI is safely deployed to create better public services, high quality jobs and accelerated growth.

"It was also great to hear about the University’s ambitions to further drive sustainable economic growth in the Glasgow City Region, not least through the area's new UK Government-backed £80 million Investment Zone. Alongside our £33 million Innovation Accelerator funding and £524 million investment in the Glasgow City Region Deal, the area is well set to help maintain Scotland’s role as a world leader in scientific innovation and technology."

First published: 2 November 2023