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September 2018
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Government leads the way in boosting AI innovation and research in the UK

Rahul Powar, CEO, Red Sift

By Rahul Powar, CEO, Red Sift

It hasn’t come as any great surprise that The Economist declared 2018 as the landmark year for Artificial Intelligence (AI). In 2017, the UK government made investment promises of over £100 million to the further development of artificial intelligence research and associated technologies. To view the surge of AI as anything other than a generation-defining event would be a mistake.

As our daily lives have become more digitised we’re producing more data than ever before. Furthermore, the reality facing a world filled with internet-connected devices is that there is an equal if not higher risk of related cybersecurity attacks. As the threat intensifies, organisations and individuals need to ensure appropriate defences are in place to protect all of this precious data. However, today, skilled professionals defending against these types of attacks can no longer keep up with the pace of these threats, hence the need for automated solutions. AI, in its many guises, including Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), is the only solution geared up to handle this vast volume of data.

The Government announced its AI Sector Deal in April of this year, a move that underlined the UK’s drive to lead the revolution in AI technology by investing in research, people, places and infrastructure. In the launch statement, Matt Hancock, the then secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the Government wanted to see the UK at the forefront of innovation and emerging technologies, and as the co-founder of a cybersecurity startup in the UK, I share this vision.

AI has the power to transform the processing speeds of otherwise arduous or near impossible tasks for individuals to manage alone, and it is by pushing these technological boundaries that we can make the greatest positive impact on society. Utilising AI for cybersecurity defences enables us to change the economics of the current state of play – we can get ahead of cybercriminals looking to use AI for their own nefarious purposes and combat the threat with superior AI knowledge. AI has the power to make us safer online.

With the dawn of these new technological possibilities comes years of research and testing, but the Government’s sector deal will help to reduce the time required to move from R&D to commercial solutions by accelerating projects with human and financial investment. We work in an industry where we all need to research, develop and test and for that reason, we feel it’s our responsibility to assist AI projects in these early phases.

Two years ago we began funding a PhD research project that looks to tackle the challenges faced within the analysis of digital communication data, in particular the challenges due to the sheer amount of information and the unstructured, ‘noisy’ nature of this data.

This project will develop a framework where the cognitive and creative capabilities of human experts can complement the computational power of advanced algorithms to empower those people working with such data. This will help us to develop our email security solutions by making sense of large collections of emails in more informed and efficient ways, and in identifying key information more effectively in order to gain much deeper insight into the ‘stories’ told by the data.

We’re are also working on a second project to better understand how analysts can use AI to perform visualisation-empowered data analysis. Our plan is to develop techniques to make multifaceted data sets more accessible via chatbots that can harness the more expressive nature of the human language.

Industry-backed research is essential to fuel this drive for the UK to lead the way in AI technology innovation. We acknowledge that the innovation of today is built on the foundation of yesterday’s research, and the UK has a strong legacy of turning academic vision into commercial reality, the challenge is how quickly we can do that – this is why it’s important for the whole industry to play a role in funding and supporting research. We’re all too aware that AI can’t just be developed in a lab. To harness the technology’s benefits requires industry players and government agencies to work together on real-world test cases to ensure that we’re getting AI right as well as using it to maximum advantage.

Today, some of the hottest startups are benefitting from the commoditisation of the technological advances, only made possible through this cutting-edge research. As an organisation that shares the government’s appetite to drive AI innovation, we applaud this sector deal and look forward to helping create the technologies of tomorrow.

Red Sift is a data-driven cybersecurity platform that is using ML to develop security solutions that use behavioural analysis to help users detect email-based threats.

Contact: info@redsift.com | @redsift | www.redsift.com

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