Announcing the #LboroAppliedAI initiative

#LboroAppliedAI is an interdisciplinary initiative promoted by the Digital Humanities research group DH@Lboro, in partnership with the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC).

The series will include four online workshops for an interdisciplinary audience of colleagues who are interested in Applied AI. The online workshops will bring together people in several Schools and Departments to discuss AI and its applications. It will be a good way to see what colleagues are working on, to network and create research synergies. Each online workshop will last one hour, and we will use Microsoft Teams for the meeting.

To join the mailing list and receive updates on the programme, please contact Dr Lise Jaillant via email.


All seminars will take place from 4-5pm.

Prof Peter Kawalek (SBE)5 November
Dr Emily Corrigan-Kavanagh & Prof Mark Plumbley (Surrey)12 November
Dr Martin Sykora (SBE)26 November
Dr Val Mitchell (SDCA)2 December

Abstracts and Speaker Biographies

Prof Peter Kawalek

Title: Network Effects, AI and Trillion Dollar Companies

Abstract: As we look at the digital economy, the concept of network effects seems especially useful. Traceable to both Economics and Computer Science, the concept describes the dynamics of value in network industries. The value of a network increases with its adoption, so encouraging oligopolistic or monopolistic outcomes. In tech-speak, the best systems sit on the best pools of data.  Artificial Intelligence exhibits characteristics of network effects as algorithms are trained through massive pools of data. The more training, the better. Hence, oligopolistic or monopolistic outcomes in industries where Artificial Intelligence is significant. In this talk we will debate critically about the rise of trillion-dollar tech firms, the concentration of markets and what it might mean for the future. The automotive sector and the healthcare sector might be instructive examples where AI might lead to the profound reorganization of these sectors. Who wants to buy a family car with the second or third best AI system? Who wants to be diagnosed by the second or third best AI in healthcare?

Biography – Peter Kawalek is Director of the Centre for Information Management at the School of Business & Economics in Loughborough University. He has additional visiting positions at Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Donegal and Deusto Business School, Bilbao. Previously of Manchester Business School, Instituto de Empresa, Warwick Business School and School of Computer Science at Manchester, he also has wide experience working with organizations including Siemens AG., SAP, IBM, Office an Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in Dublin, the Department of Communities and Local Government (London), Leeds City Council, Salford City Council, Lancashire Constabulary, Greater Manchester Police, Manchester City FC., New York City FC. Peter has held and managed over £2m in research grants from government and research councils.

Dr Emily Corrigan-Kavanagh & Prof Mark Plumbley (Surrey)

Title: AI for Sound

Abstract: Imagine you are standing on a street corner in a city. Close your eyes: what do you hear? Perhaps some cars and buses driving on the road, footsteps of people on the pavement, beeps from a pedestrian crossing, and the hubbub of talking shoppers. You can do the same in a kitchen as someone is making breakfast, or as you are travelling in a vehicle. Now, following the success of AI and machine learning technologies for speech and image recognition, we aim to build computer systems to automatically recognise real-world sound scenes and events. This is part of a major new EPSRC-funded fellowship project where we will investigate how to use ‘AI for Sound’ to measure sounds of human activity in the home to help with assisted living, sounds in non-domestic buildings to improve the office and workplace environment, sounds in smart cities to improve the urban environment, and develop sound tools to help producers and consumers of broadcast creative content.

In this talk, we will explore some of the work going on in this rapidly expanding research area and discuss some of the potential applications emerging for sound recognition, from home security and assisted living to environmental noise and sound archives. We will discuss our approach for the research ahead, including participatory approaches to engage with users and stakeholders, bringing “AI for Sound” technology out of the lab. This will be achieved by undertaking this research in context, through a set of real-world use cases in assisted living in the home, smart buildings, smart cities, and the creative sector. We will close with some pointers to more information and publications on this exciting future technology.

Dr Martin Sykora

Title: Social Media and AI: Emotions, Stress and Manipulative Behaviours

Abstract: In this talk I will focus on social media research and the role AI plays in such research and across social media platforms in general. I argue for the need of well-informed interdisciplinary and more holistic approaches to tackling challenging social media research questions. Social Media has been playing an increasingly active role in shaping society, politics, and economics – which has yet to be fully understood, while analysing and understanding the unprecedented volume of unstructured, context-poor big data has proven to be challenging. Nuanced approaches to integrating qualitative insights from traditional methods with large scale big-data based data science insights are needed. I will present some of my most recent social media research on automated analysis of emotions, automated social media bot behaviours, and potential applications across public health and political discourse. The talk will also touch upon manipulation, algorithmic bias, and ethics across social media analytics.

Biography: Dr Martin Sykora is a Senior Lecturer in Information Management, at the Centre for Information Management (CIM). He is a multi-disciplinary scholar at the frontier of computational social media research and sentiment analysis, investigating the role of social media in public health as well as how it shapes our behaviours in relation to communication of emotion and affect, political discourse and civic culture. He has over 50 peer-reviewed publications across this area of research, and has successfully secured over £635,000 (£935,000 with the O3C mini-CDT award as Co-I) in research funding from funding bodies, including EU Horizon 2020, SSHRC, Metropolitan Police (Mayor’s Office, London), EPSRC, UKRI Innovate UK, and DSTL.

Dr Val Mitchell

Title: Designing user experiences at the intersection of AI and design

Abstract: Conversations at the intersection of human centred design and data science have, until recently, focussed predominately on the ethical and policy implications of using AI within services and systems, particularly issues related to trust, privacy and bias.  How to design user experiences with AI and in particular Machine Learning (ML) is however a growing topic of interest for user experience (UX) and Service Design (SD) practitioners, leading to the emergence of new tools, methods and ways of working.

This talk will introduce how UXD design practice is evolving to encompass design with ML and how this presents us with new opportunities and challenges for applied academic research. It will cover from a practitioner point of view how the emergence of ML as a design material impacts on the role of UX designers for key stages of the experience design process. The content is based on ongoing teaching and research collaborations with industry partners working at the intersection of UX and AI.

Biography: Val Mitchell is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Design and Creative Arts and Programme Director for the User Experience Design MA. She has over 20 years interdisciplinary research experience specialising in the development of Human Centred Design (HCD) methodologies, methods and tools. She has been a Co-I on three EPSRC funded research projects, in each case leading design research and facilitating interdisciplinary working. She works closely with industry partners particularly in the sustainable energy sector. She specialises in methodological research at the intersection of disciplines and the development of creative co-design tools and methods for designing future technologies and services. From November 2020 she is undertaking a 40% full time equivalent fractional secondment with the Service Design agency Snook, a leading UK design agency based in London and Glasgow She has co-authored one book entitled ‘Making Homes: Ethnography and Design’ and over 30 academic journal articles mostly focussed on the development of HCD tools and methods.


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