The UKRI Turing Artificial Intelligence (AI) World-Leading Researcher Fellows is a UK government flagship scheme aimed at building new research capacity in the UK by offering substantial support for AI academics of world-leading standard. The scheme aims to:
- support individuals who are seeking to consolidate their leadership position in their host institution, in the national and international research community
- enable engagement and influence of the strategic direction of UK AI research
- build centres of excellence around the fellow, providing the resources and time needed to address key questions in the application of AI
Given the strategic nature of the scheme, UKRI expected significant packages of support from the host institution, as well as leveraged contributions from industrial partners. The Strategic Research Fund (SRF) provided £300,000 per fellow, in addition to £100,000 each from their division and a package of further support from their departments.
Recognising our position as an international leader in AI and ML research, consistently ranking top 10 worldwide, UKRI awarded two of the five fellowships to Oxford – to Professor Phil Torr and Prof Michael Wooldridge. These will bring significant investment to the University to create new centres of excellence in key areas of AI research for the UK which are prime for continued support over the next 10 to 15 years.
Professor Phil Torr (FRS, FRAEng) is founder of spin-outs Oxsight and AIstetic. He aims to make deep neural networks more robust. Deep networks are widely used in applications from fraud detection to self-driving cars but are have surprising vulnerabilities. Through his fellowship Professor Torr will create a new centre of excellence that will make deep learning reliable, robust and deployable as well as capable of efficiently handling the enormous quantities of data they will be fed with. SRF support will enable a departmental lecturer post in the area of information engineering to provide teaching cover for Professor Phil Torr to release his time.
UKRI award value: £3,063,356
Professor Michael Wooldridge, Professor of Computer Science and Co-programme Director for AI at The Alan Turing Institute, is a recipient of the British Computer Society’s Lovelace Medal and a fellow of four AI and computing societies and associations. Professor Wooldridge will be working with industrial partners, including Accenture Global Solutions, JP Morgan, Oxford Asset Management and Vodafone. He aims to improve the agent-based AI models that are increasingly used in sectors such as financial modelling and logistics, continuing his work to use agent-based models to understand the causes of catastrophic collapses in global markets, so called 'flash crashes'. SRF support will provide a PDRA, some computing equipment and travel.
UKRI award value: £3,625,312