Data Science in Science

Great lecture at the Alan Turing Institute by Professor Tony Hey, ex Microsoft Research, and now Chief Data Scientist at the UK’s ‘Science and Technology Facilities Council’, at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

Professor Hey outlined the challenges and opportunities posed by the growth of experimental data, created by the new generation of large-scale experiments such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope which could generate more data per day than the entire internet when it comes online shortly. Other examples included Berkley’s SlideCAM “Minimalist Machine Learning” that analyses images from very little information; Argonne’s CANDLE project which is about Deep Learning and Simulation Enabled Precision Medicine for Cancer; Oak Ridge’s world leading HPC used to study exploding stars, simulating particle turbulence in fusion reactions, and materials for high-temperature superconductors; and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Diamond Light Source – a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to study anything from jet engines to viruses.

Business West Q&A on AI

Following on from a lively and fascinating debate at the Balloon Fiesta Breakfast on ‘Artificial Intelligence: a blessing or a curse?, Business West catches up with Mike Lloyd, Founder of

Do you think Artificial Intelligence is a blessing or a curse for business and the economy?

Overall, AI could be a blessing to both business and the economy because of its potential to boost productivity. According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s productivity is lower than that of the rest of the G7 by 16.3%[i]. At the same time, the World Economic Forum predicts that AI driven labour productivity improvements could boost the UK economy by 3.9%[ii]. For some, however, AI could be a curse. Those organisations who fail to invest and innovate will inevitably feel the heat from UK and foreign competitors.

Do you believe there will be a rise in unemployment with technology taking over?

This fear of unemployment always accompanies new waves of technology, but the reality is that not only do people generally adapt to take advantage of new technology, but the global population continues to grow and prosper on the back of technological innovation. Fears of unemployment were voiced at the start of the Personal Computing revolution, but we now have millions of jobs which could not be done without a PC.

Saying that, AI is different to previous waves of technology because it can replace thinking work. This will undoubtedly cause disruption to all kinds of jobs, including those – like lawyers – which were previously thought a ‘safe’ career.

So, in the same ways as some organisations will find AI a curse, the same can be said for people who fail to make the right education, skills and career choices. Individuals face a stark choice – get on top of AI or have it done to you by someone else.

“The internet has led to a tsunami of crime” said Chief Constable at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Andy Marsh. Do you agree with this statement?

On balance, the Internet is an extremely good thing. However, the Internet has radically increased the potential attack surface for criminals, accelerated the globalization of crime, and enabled new types of crime to operate on an industrial basis. To put this into context, the global cybercrime economy generates over $1.5 trn[iii] – bigger than the economy of Spain at $1.2 trn. For law enforcement, who have to deal with the full range of criminals from state sponsored organisations, to malicious individuals, it must feel like the Internet has unleashed a tsunami!

The good news is that AI is a powerful tool for countering crime. The bad news is that law enforcement and the security services are in an ‘arms race’ with criminals and hostile governments to deploy the best technology.

As a side note, the Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s use of Business Intelligence is truly world class and I highly recommend learning more about this for anyone interested in BI.[iv]

Should we simplify & democratise AI to ensure that everyone benefits from it – not just big tech companies and a maths and computer science elite?

If we are serious about the equitable distribution of opportunities, we need to disrupt the world of AI by making it accessible to all.

Unfortunately, there are far too few people in politics who truly understand AI and are motivated and capable of driving the right kind of change. In my view, much of the current government’s policy seems to be top down and focused on academia. The opposition’s idea of taxing robots runs the risk of de-incentivising innovation and driving production abroad.

For policy guidance, we can learn much from the PC era. PCs helped raise productivity because they put computational power into the hands of virtually everyone. Schools taught people how to use PCs, and new industries were formed such as IT training, IT services and software development.

Yes, academia, research, big tech and elites certainly have a role, but to get AI working for us at scale, non-expert working people need to be educated and incentivized to recognize opportunities to augment their work with AI, most business and public sector organisations in this country need to plan how to use AI to help them develop.

The most important thing is that business leaders have the confidence and toolsets to drive AI in their organisations, and this is something that can help with.

What do you think are the biggest challenges for the future generation in business?

Right now, the biggest challenge for business is to know where to start with AI. The media is overflowing with articles and programs about AI, but there is precious little out there which says ‘Step 1, do this…”.

Talent is another challenge. Until AI is simplified, and packaged for easy and low-cost use, Data Scientists and AI experts will be at a premium.

Projecting further ahead, AI will undoubtedly accelerate change, and the amount of work involved in just keeping abreast of change, tracking it and adjusting to it is daunting. And we’ve not yet reached Artificial General Intelligence which could accelerate change even more[v].

Another challenge will be competition from China. China’s government aims to foster a $1 trillion A.I. industry by 2030, and already has 1/2 the global investment in AI startups. It’s impossible to predict where this will lead, but we should be prepared for a much more Chinese-centric future when it comes to AI.

Finally, what are the pros and cons of Artificial Intelligence?

We are already seeing a lot of pros with AI well integrated into many aspects of modern living. The most exciting application areas in my view are medical diagnosis, energy efficiency, and augmenting human creative processes. I look forward to seeing AI disrupt old fashioned industries such as law and education, and to it helping rid the world of fake news, mass ignorance, and political dishonesty. I’m optimistic that we’ll see AI feature in the school curriculum – if India can do this, so can we.

On the ‘cons’ side, it will take effort and smart investment by businesses, government and individuals to understand how AI can be exploited, and leaders will need to be brave and just get their organisations started down the AI path. The alternative is to have AI done to you or your organisation by someone else.

On the whole I’m optimistic. The West of England always has been a cradle of innovation – from iron ships, to vaccination – and we’re already seeing world class companies such as Bristol’s Graphcore beginning to lead the way in AI. I look forward to seeing AI open opportunities for all across the West of England.





[v] Artificial Intelligence General is machine intelligence that – like the human mind – can tackle a range of cognitive tasks

See the article on the Business West website here:


Unpicking the Artificial Intelligence Talent Arms Race

In the Winter 2017 issue of Breakthrough, UKSPA Chairman Dr David Hardman MBE highlighted the technology skills gap and said that ‘companies requiring specific skills will either struggle to grow, or will move elsewhere to access the necessary talent. This article explores how AI is driving the skills gap, and what can be done about it.

The rapid adoption of AI is accelerating the broader digital skills gap, and with one new AI company being formed in the UK each day there is now an ‘arms race’ for talent. At a recent AI conference in London[i], almost every presentation featured skills development as an imperative. This is in line with a recent CBI report which stated that the biggest barrier to AI adoption in UK companies is the shortage of AI skills, with two thirds of pioneering businesses saying they don’t have the skills and capabilities needed to adopt AI.[ii]

But what skills are required, how might they be developed, and what specific actions should businesses take?


AI is the application of mathematics to data. The AI process involves inputting data, processing and optimising it, applying mathematical models, and obtaining a prediction. According to Paul Clarke, CTO at Ocado, “AI is the new Java, it will be everywhere and in everything”.

AI differs significantly from other technologies in that it can develop itself without human intervention. As we race towards the singularity – the point at which machines exceed human intelligence – we can expect increasing ‘self-determination’ in intelligent systems. This means that at the sharp end of AI development people are required to design systems that program themselves, so the level of abstract thinking, skills and knowledge needed is PhD level – even if AI developers don’t have a PhD, their thinking needs to be broad and deep, and they need to be capable of significant abstraction.

AI is not new technology, and many AI processes are now automated – e.g. AutoML allows the automated selection of the mathematical models that are applied to the data, and other tools can be used to automate workflows and other processes like feature selection in the data.

However, automation in AI processes can only go so far, and between 60% and 80% of the AI process is the preparation of data. So, skills like data wrangling, cleaning, model validation and data visualization will continue to be in demand.


The core skills needed to build and work with AI systems are mathematics (particularly statistics and probability), data manipulation, and computer science. Depending on the focus of the business, deep domain expertise can add a lot of value to the AI development process.

Governments in the West are increasingly demanding more openness, and this means showing your workings – including algorithms – and this will drive demand for strong communication skills.


Is A.I. becoming the new Latin – open only to an extremely skilled elite?

Only a very small number of people will be required to develop AI solutions. As AI reaches into the workplace, most people will be either managing the use of AI to produce value, or they will use AI to augment their work. For example, one can imagine how staff in a company could talk to an AI assistant to help make decisions, but a comparatevly small team of people would actually implement and support the system.

There’s also a real need to educate everyone to use AI in a smart way. This means people generally being savvy enough to not be persuaded by AI assisted fake news, or aggressive marketing, and being able to analyze how algorithmic decision making affects them. Without a basic understanding of how AI works, there’s a risk that many people will simply have AI done to them.

AI Skills

Higher Education, training and self-learning all have roles to play in ensuring that A.I. is used in the workplace. The UK Government is active at the top end of the AI skills continuum. For example, government funded Alan Turning Institute has a fellowship program designed to attract the brightest and best in the field. The EPSRC are funding clusters of PhD level research in AI.[iii] Other initiatives include funding for 1-year conversion Master’s degrees.

At the lower end of the workplace AI skills continuum Further Education and workplace training can have significant business impact.

How many people see AI

Many people see A.I. as a no-go zone. This has to change. 

A key skill required in all businesses is to recognise where AI can potentially add value. To take advantage of AI, there must be people in the organisation who know what AI can do, and understand what products and services are required. There must also be people who can visualise AI use-case scenarios, gain support, obtain resources, implement AI solutions, and manage change.


As with most technologies, it’s a reasonable expectation that AI will become commodified, and that general-purpose AI tools for business will become widely used. In 1962 the concept of a spreadsheet was embodied in Fortran[iv] – a language accessible only to specialists. By 1985, the spreadsheet had become fully visual in the form of Excel for the Macintosh. Now Excel is ubiquitous. It’s not unreasonable to expect a similar journey with AI.

Peering further into the future, we evisage Bio-Inspired AI fundamentally changing traditional development paradigms towards Goal Directed Design, or GDD. This will enable developers to tell the computer what is needed instead of what to do, and this has implications for the kinds of skills that will be needed in all kinds of software development.


AI can be used in an exceptionally wide range of scenarios, from swarms of microscopic robots to big data processing in massive server farms. So, understanding the scope, scale and range of benefits that AI can bring to business is an essential first step. The most important question to start with is “what problems can AI solve – for our customers, and for the company”.

The next logical step is to appoint a team leader to drive an AI transformation program, starting with the ‘lowest hanging fruit’, and then driving a cross-company program of AI awareness and skills. At the same time, its important to ensure that the data upon which AI services are built is of the highest possible quality.

Of particular importance are leadership skills, and leaders should know not just about AI itself but the kind of technologies that can compliment or underpin AI systems – platforms & architectures; IoT; Blockchain; big data; and analytics.

To take full advantage of AI, companies also need to develop skills in designing digitally-based solutions; solution selling; effective cross-team collaboration and innovation process.

Finally, its worth realising that AI is just a tool – albeit a very powerful tool, of course. Whilst it helps to be able to think at PhD level to undersand how to develop AI systems, for most companies the heavy lifting involved in implementing AI will be about definining the problems and opportunities, choosing and implementing the right solution components, and helping people incorporate the power of AI into their work.

[i] Westminster eForum, AI and robotics, innovation, funding and policy priorities, February 27th 2018

[ii] CBI, Adopting the Future survey, 2016



“A.I. Demystified” and “How to Make a Mind?”

Its great to be based in a city so alert to the opportunities and threats posed by A.I. Since the middle of October, CLWB has been involved in a string of events in Bristol and Bath, delivering short and long workshops covering a full range of A.I. topics for audiences ranging from CTOs to primary school children.

We’ve been fortunate to be able to work with some truly amazing people and partners, and to have been engaged in two digital festivals – Bristol Digital City, and Bath Digital Festival.


As a prelude to Digital Bristol Week, we contributed to a panel called “Whose A.I. is it Anyway” at the Pervasive Media Studio, joined by data philosopher Charles Radclyffe, education technology entrepreneur Becky Sage, and chaired by Mel Rodrigues from the BBC. A vigorous and highly enjoyable debate covered future gazing, and ethics of A.I.

Whose AI is it anyway

Following that, we delivered “How to Make a Mind?” as part of the BBC’s School Report series at the Engine Shed. This included activities such as ranking the intelligence of animals, plants and objects; exploring how a Neural Network could be used to design a healthy pizza; and exploring bots to illustrate the Turing Test.

School Report copy

At the Bath Digital Festival, we ran two workshops – “A.I. Demystified”, and “How to Make a Mind?”.


Back at the Engine Shed, the full-day “A.I. Demystified” was sold out. Attendees had a wide range of backgrounds and industries:

  • Law
  • Electronics
  • Small business incubation
  • Signal processing
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Web media and web services
  • Public sector
  • Business consulting services

Subjects covered included ‘What is A.I.?’, Machine Learning, Managing Data, essential coding and maths, and Neural Networks.

Delegates received a Virtual Machine environment for use on their computers, and a fully illustrated 62-page book.

Feedback was fantastic – Quote – “I’ve learned to not be afraid of A.I., and I can now see how to start working with it”.

Following this, we ran both “A.I. Demystified” and “How to Make a Mind?” at TEDx Bristol


Next up – “How to Make a Mind?” with the BBC at BBC HQ in Salford; then ID/AI with CLWB partner, Ian Myles in Singapore on 17th November.


After that, Australia with CLWB partners – Compu.Ed, Perth, 20th and 21st November; Box Hill Institute, November 27th and 28th; Maven Partners – Melbourne 29th November, Sydney 30th November. Then back to Singapore for A.I. Demystified on 4th December.


A.I. Demystified Launches in Perth


Ian Myles, CLWB Asia Managing Partner, launches A.I. Demystified at the Maths Association of Western Australia’s STEM Education conference.

Starting with the premise that A.I. is the first technology ever that is capable of producing itself without human intervention, the session covered a diverse set of topics, including:

  • What is A.I.?
  • A.I.s current and future impact on politics, jobs, healthcare, finance, and education
  • The Mathematics of A.I.
  • Skills for an A.I. infused world
  • Why everybody should learn something about A.I.

Download Ian’s slides here – AI Keynote

Thanks to Rachael Whitney-Smith from MAWA, and Goeff and Marc Kaye from Compu.Ed.

CLWB A.I. Takes Off

CLWB has introduced two new products to our portfolio – A.I. learning packages for school children, ‘How to Make a Mind’; and introductory A.I. training for adults, ‘A.I. Demystified’. AIwordpressproductsOur A.I. initiative kicks off on Friday 29th September with CLWB Asia partner Ian Myles delivering a keynote on A.I. at the Maths Association of Western Australia STEM conference in Perth.


‘How to Make a Mind’ will feature as part of the BBC’s Digital Cities week in Bristol, on 17th October, where we run a workshop to start the process of preparing children for an A.I. – infused world. This workshop will be filmed for BBC School Report.


On 21st October, we are delivering both ‘How to Make a Mind‘ and ‘A.I. Demystified‘ – our adult program – at the Bath Digital Festival.


A.I. Demystified continues in Bristol on October 26th, and is next delivered in Singapore on 17th November as part of the ID/AI Fintech conference.


From there, we take it across Australia, finishing beginning of December – more on this to follow.

With A.I Virtual Machines and classroom activity packs, and interest from the USA and other parts of the world, A.I. is here to stay as a key pillar in the CLWB portfolio.

To find out more about CLWB’s A.I. offerings, contact 


CLWB @ Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy


bteaIn one of our most exciting projects to-date, we are delighted to be implementing STEM at the Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy, a Centre of Excellence for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. BTEA is a University Technical College sponsored by the likes of Rolls Royce, Airbus, Royal Navy and GKN.

Over the next year, BTEA will be adopting several of CLWB’s products and programs including:

CLWB STEM Box” – a virtual ‘sandbox’ for STEM coding activities covering each STEM subject area, including:

  • Astronomy
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics

ZEP Island™ – an education game which integrates STEM learning experiences


Games Programming  

Introduction to Coding 

In the Christmas and Eater terms we will also be running whole-school events:

  • Extreme Measures – how to measure everything!
  • Sporting Innovation – design, prototype and pitch new sport products

We very much look forward to working further with the staff and students at BTEA to develop a UK showcase for STEM.

Artificial Intelligence Demystified

Artificial Intelligence demystified is delighted to announce a major initiative aimed at democratising Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is driving the automation of a swathe of jobs – including many that were once regarded as ‘safe’.

Whilst AI can seem inaccessible and complex at first, our goal is to open up AI for as many people as possible by helping them to quickly acquire a practical understanding of how AI works and what it can do for them.

From October 2017 we will be working with broadcasters, recruitment agencies, publishers and technical partners in UK, Australia, Singapore, Canada and Brazil to deliver 1-day workshops and learning kits.

With no prerequisites – apart from curiosity and basic Excel skills – professionals from all walks of life will get the tools they need to make sense of AI. As part of the package, participants will receive a toolkit that they can then use at home or in work to consolidate and build on their learning.

Participants will be carefully lead through the basic mathematics, data handling, and algorithmic thinking skills needed to understand AI, and will be shown how AI solutions can be implemented and scaled.

AI Demystified topics include:

  • What exactly is AI?
  • How can you take advantage of AI?
  • ‘Quick Starts’ – essential Maths and Technology skills
  • Putting Machine Learning to work on your data
  • Getting to depth and scale with AI solutions

Starting at the Engine Shed in Bristol UK on October 19th and 26th 2017, we are working with SETsquared to run 2 workshops, and invite you to participate.

Click here to sign-up: Eventbrite ticketing for Artificial Intelligence Demystified

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Accelerating STEM in China

China is embracing STEM, and is proud to be partnering with Pearson China to accelerate its adoption there.

Last week we delivered thee events in Beijing:

ASTIE Launch

It was great to be able to present at the launch of ASTIE – Alliance of Science Technology and Innovation Education, and the Summit Forum on the International Science Technology and Innovation Education at the Beijing International Convention Center. The launch ceremony included a great speech by Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine, who talked about  the “cognification” of the physical world through AI.

We were delighted to present the work that Pearson has been doing in China, which includes projects in all major regions.


Beijing National Day School

As part of the ASTIE launch, we presented a detailed analysis of what it takes to implement STEM programs in schools.


The Beijing National Day School produces some terrific STEM learning, including underwater robotics and automated parcel systems.

Beijing National Day School.png

Pics c/o Beijing National Day School 

STEM Teacher Training Workshops

We then delivered 4 x 1-day workshops covering roller coaster design; environmentally friendly chemical products; designing running shoes; and bridges.

The teachers learned how to implement creative collaboration and design thinking in their schools, and how to use science to inform design decisions.


Thanks to Niko Zhang, Magic Shi, Rao Zhen, Chris Zhang,  and all those at Pearson China.

CLWB Joins “IoT Boost”


CLWB is delighted to have been accepted onto the UK Government’s IoT Boost program. This will boost our product development capacity.

As part of our involvement, we will also be hosted within SETSquared – the world’s #1 university business incubator – out of the Engine Shed in Bristol. This will give us access to world-class technical, scientific and business resources.


In related news, we’ve also just delivered IoT and Clean Energy learning programs – complete with hardware, programming, learning content, and training materials – for Box Hill Institute in Melbourne, as part of the Victoria Government’s Tech School program. Our Bristol University interns, Tony Wang and  Folu Akinsemoyin contributed excellent engineering and programming expertise. More on this when the project goes live later in the year.

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