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New I-X initiative launched to tackle global challenges with AI and data science

Imperial College London’s major new initiative I-X will use artificial intelligence and data science to tackle global challenges.

I-X harnesses the College’s long-standing excellence in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data sciences, and the many fields in science, engineering, medicine and business where they are applied.

Its projects include developing new computational tools for improving image-based detection and diagnosis of disease, using AI to direct the design and implementation of new biological systems, and intelligent systems and networks for monitoring, control, and security of critical infrastructure. Other fields of research include human-AI cooperation, robotics and automation, and machine learning systems that understand the real world, such as self-driving vehicles.

Co-discovery and creation

The initiative is housed over two floors at the Translation & Innovation Hub (I-HUB) at Imperial’s White City Campus. This ‘mixed campus’ brings together over 300 researchers from the Faculties of EngineeringNatural Sciences, and Medicine, and Imperial College Business School, working together with industrial partners. The aim is to build new models of co-discovery and co-creation in the digital space, transcending individual disciplines to tackle major societal challenges as well as to identify and pursue new opportunities.

I-X will be officially launched at an event at White City, hosted by Imperial’s President Professor Hugh Brady, and live-streamed on YouTube. The launch will feature a keynote address on ‘AI-X and Gen Alpha’ by Maja Pantic, Professor of Affective and Behavioural Computing at Imperial and the AI Scientific Research Lead at Meta.

Chair of I-X Professor Eric Yeatman, from the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: “I-X is rapidly becoming established, with new academic staff and fellows, and exciting new research programmes, and we are thrilled to introduce I-X with today’s launch.”

Scientific ‘moonshots’

I-X’s innovative research programme aims to deliver ambitious scientific ‘moonshots’ in the next 5-10 years. It will achieve this by bringing together multidisciplinary academic teams from across Imperial with companies and non-profit labs.

The scope of this programme includes ‘core fields’ such as AI, machine learning, statistics, and data science.These underpin ‘applied fields’ such as health, environment, economy, society and space. There will also be ‘foundational aspects’ that inform how technologies are developed including security, privacy, resilience, sustainability and ethics.

The education strategy for I-X is led by Professor Christopher Tucci from the Department of Management & Entrepreneurship as its Co-Director (Education). Professor Nick Jones from the Department of Mathematics is Co-Director (Engagement) and Professor Peter Pietzuch from the Department of Computing is Co-Director (Research).

Eleven new faculty members were recruited to join I-X in 2022, with eight more to come in 2023. In addition, it will engage students through new flexible Master’s programmes, new courses for industry, and new industry-integrated PhDs. I-X also aims to engage the public and local communities in London through the development of apprenticeships in data science.

Embedded into I-X is the Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, a programme of Schmidt Futures, which aims to accelerate the next scientific revolution by applying AI to research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The initiative will fund up to twenty fellows at Imperial each year for up to six years, supporting them to learn and apply AI methods to their research.