London is looking to the future with AI tech

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In the race for AI supremacy, London has taken an early lead. Here’s a look at why the capital of the UK is so smart.

  • Is London the new capital of AI tech? Quite possibly. There are multiple AI startups based in the city, including DeepMind, the Google-owned company that created the champion Go software.
  • What is London doing to promote artificial intelligence? In April, the UK government announced a new £1bn ($1.35bn) fund for AI students.
  • What are the benefits of artificial intelligence? Many legal firms use artificial intelligence to cut down on research time, and AI assists health professionals by detecting eye disease and genetic disorders.

For the past 15 years or so, Silicon Valley has been the center of the technology world. This small town on the outskirts of San Francisco just happened to provide the perfect environment for ambitious innovators. However, the next generation of technology will be less about entrepreneurship and more about data science. In the race to create this AI tech of the future, London is winning.

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Smart city

What is the current state of AI tech?

Although artificial intelligence is still in its infancy, you would be hard pressed to avoid it altogether. Enjoy watching Netflix? All the recommendations come from smart software. Store your photos online? Facebook and Google have taught machines how to recognize faces and places.

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London’s AI scene

However, AI tech will soon have a much bigger impact on our lives. Machines will help us with chores, gain an advantage over our competitors, and even communicate on our behalf. London is where much of the background research is taking place.

What AI tech is being developed in London?

There are at least a dozen significant AI startups based in London. Most are relatively unknown, but their work is of vital importance. They employ the brightest brains in computer science in the hope of solving multi-billion-dollar problems.

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The DeepMind team (Credit: PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE from Earth France)

What is DeepMind?

Started in 2010 by Demis Hassabis, a former games developer and neuroscience student, DeepMind is probably the most influential company in the world of artificial intelligence. Since it was acquired by Google in 2014, DeepMind shot to fame after the company’s AI defeated the best human Go player in the world.

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DeepMind won at Go

However, DeepMind has also created an eye scanner that can spot the early signs of blindness, and built a neural network that mimics short-term memory. Furthermore, the company’s research has seeped its way into Google products.

When will we experience the benefits of London’s AI tech?

If you use anything made by Google, you are already experiencing the benefits of London’s AI scene. Google Assistant is seriously smart, and it’s getting smarter thanks to some of the work done at DeepMind.

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AI in action

Another recent example was announced at Google’s I/O conference this year. Google Duplex is a life-like AI that can handle calls on your behalf. DeepMind’s own WaveNet software allows Duplex to sound just like a real human voice.

What is the future of AI tech?

At the moment, DeepMind and London’s many other startups are just experimenting and exploring. While AI tech will one day rule the world, researchers are still exploring its full potential. Gradually, the technology is making its way into new consumer-ready products — but there’s a lot more still to come from London’s AI community.

The Gadget Flow Daily Digest highlights and explores the latest in tech trends to keep you informed. Want it straight to your inbox? Subscribe now.

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Meet Mark Myerson

Mark is best known for writing about apps, but he also loves the tactile, hardware side of technology. Being a professional photographer, he's pretty handy with a camera, and he's a self-confessed tweetaholic.

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