DeepMind Health Joins the Mothership (The Week in AI)

DeepMind Health Joins the Mothership (The Week in AI)

Google’s DeepMind Health Move Raises Questions About AI Ethics

You begin to get the feeling that when big tech makes an acquisition and privacy experts voice concerns, the corresponding assurances offered should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Nevertheless, frustration poured out when Google reneged on its promise not to incorporate DeepMind Health into the wider Google organisation – reported here by Alex Hern in the Guardian.

DeepMind had previously pledged when it started working with the NHS that its “data will never be connected to Google accounts or services”. The promise of improved care offered by Streams, however, may be enough for people to swallow what privacy advocates are calling a betrayal of “patients’ trust”.

The communications strategy employed here is worth examining, with Google essentially falling back on the rationale that this is necessary for the successful global scale of the app. If we start to focus purely on the pragmatism of whether something is necessary to achieve a particular result rather than whether it is ethical, can we really say that anybody is paying attention to ethical AI?

The big question here is, does anybody care? If not, it sends a signal that the public is not going to police ethical AI, nor industry itself, and a sign to governments that perhaps they need to. All companies using AI need to think carefully about how they address and emphasise ethical concerns in their communications.

Property Industry Weighs Up AI Impacts

This week’s Estates Gazette included a write-up of EG’s Future of London event, with Emma Rosser focusing on a discussion of the property industry’s readiness for AI disruption. Most interestingly, John Williams, head of marketing at The Instant Group, suggested that it will be UK Government that will drive AI adoption in the sector via “automation, tech advances, data and benchmarks” in its role as a “contractor, partner or client”. Overall, the discussion seemed downbeat on progress and suggests much more needs to be done to generate the levels of data in the sector that will result in meaningful AI-led improvements.

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Around Whitehall:

Margot James was in attendance as Atos teamed up with Google to set up a new open AI lab in London. The consulting firm intends to combine private and public sector capabilities to collaborate and unlock cross-enterprise opportunities. Atos also plans to launch an additional lab in Paris.…

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Big Wins for UK AI Development (The Week in AI)

Big Wins for UK AI Development (The Week in AI)

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Artificial intelligence company has secured £29.5 million in funding to expand its AI digital properties builder in the UK, according to the Financial Times. The company combines human developers and AI to develop web and mobile properties for organisations at an accelerated pace. Anybody involved in the lengthy and oft-delayed process of developing a website will probably welcome that concept.

While the company is Los Angeles HQ’d, this is a big marker for AI in the UK and thus celebrated by digital minister Margot James: “It’s fantastic to see another one of our innovative digital firms raise the funding it needs to take a step to the next level.”

However, it should also be examined in a wider context. As continued political dialogue focuses on the need to upskill the UK in coding, offerings like’s show that there is a danger of training for yesterday’s requirements. It should wake up policymakers, industry and education to the need for forward-looking curricula and training and the need to develop adaptability in the workforce and among young people.

Manchester, so much to answer for

The University of Manchester switched on the world’s largest neuromorphic computer this week. As reported here in Alphr, the computer is designed to replicate the human brain and requires over a million processors at its core. The technology mimics the biological neural activities of a human brain by emitting “spikes” of pure electro-chemical energy, meaning that the potential for medical progress is immense. The computer has already been used to simulate the Basal Ganglia, the region of the brain that suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

The idea behind the computer was originated 20 years ago and took ten years to build. While it showcases the immense potential of computing, it also is an inspiring tale of human endeavour! Based on this it might seem strange that Manchester is not one of the five universities receiving funding to be a technology healthcare centre (see Whitehall section below).

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Around Whitehall:

Government splashes £50m on AI centres for digital pathology

Business Secretary Greg Clark announced a major initiative for furthering the use of artificial intelligence in clinical settings, with the aim of improving patient care and improving efficiency in the NHS. £50 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will fund five new technology centres.

Margot James pens letter from Lisbon for City AM

Digital Minister Margot James penned an article for City AM while attending WebSummit in Lisbon. In the article, the MP for Stourbridge celebrated the success of regional cities outside of London at outstripping continental capitals. She also underlined the importance of the Turing fellowships in attracting the world’s top AI talent to the UK.…

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Mercedes Benz? No, my (electric) car is a Scottish Power

Mercedes Benz? No, my (electric) car is a Scottish Power

Written by Philip Armstrong, Account Director, Energy

The announcement by Scottish Power of the “UK’s first” end-to-end renewable powered electric vehicle (EV) service is the latest demonstration of the radical shifts and convergence underway between two sectors – energy and transport.

Scottish Power joins a growing number of energy suppliers in offering a range of EV services, from special tariffs to smart charging infrastructure and apps. Other suppliers include challenger brands such as Good Energy and Ecotricity up to more established players such as E.On.

However, the company is going beyond simply offering bespoke services for EVs. It is providing customers with the opportunity to purchase the EV itself (through a partnership with car retailer Arnold Clark). This innovative integrated combination of energy and transport, or mobility services, is a model that increasingly we will see across both sectors as companies – from start-ups to multinationals – seek to capture market share in a rapidly decarbonising economy.

From traditional energy companies offering EVs to car manufacturers offering battery storage, the lines between the two sectors are fast disappearing. The competition is fierce as they compete to offer customers the simplest, most comprehensive packages of products and services.

Active customer engagement is the key

Engaging active customers is the key here. Energy and mobility companies are banking on these integrated packages to build an engaged customer base and be able to sell a wider range of services, including beyond EVs.

This is especially true for energy companies looking to market domestic renewables, smart home or demand response services. A customer who has an EV, smart charger and app-controlled tariff is more likely to engage with services that could help better manage their energy, save costs or make money (such as vehicle-to-grid power).

The challenge to establish such integrated energy and mobility services is to communicate to customers – from domestic consumers to commercial businesses – in a way that encourages action.

Innovative services need innovative communication

Clear and compelling information with an emphasis on how simple it is for the customer is a crucial starting point. EVs require a degree of consumer action far greater than conventional cars and so it must be clear why they should act, how they will benefit and how little effort it requires.

On its own this will not be enough. Companies need to go beyond marketing through the business and consumer pages or on their website and reach out directly. What about publically accessible demonstration points, high-profile consumer champions, features in Top Gear magazine or discussions on mumsnet?

Creating the innovative services is great, but without active consumer engagement, the risk is that a plethora of different packages, services and tariffs results in the same consumer confusion and apathy seen in the market for switching energy suppliers.

If you are interested in Future Mobility and what it means for you and your organisation please drop us a line, we would be delighted to speak and see how we might be able to help tell your story.

Microsoft Report Highlights UK PLC’s Lack of AI Strategy (The Week in AI)

Microsoft Report Highlights UK PLC’s Lack of AI Strategy (The Week in AI)

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Business Readiness for AI

While rare praise has been given to the energy and drive behind the Government’s AI and data industrial strategy, a new report from Microsoft suggests that most businesses are not doing enough themselves (reported here in Internet of Business). Half of businesses surveyed by the company said that they had no AI strategy in place. The research also found that businesses who have already begun this journey are doing five percent better on factors like productivity, performance, and business outcomes than those that have not.

Microsoft exec Norm Judah commented that AI is really about augmenting human ingenuity and the report suggests that many businesses can gain a competitive advantage if they start making plans for how to do that – especially while rivals do not act.

But while there may be an advantage, what is not widely discussed in the coverage of this report are the global implications. Part of the Government and the technology industry’s role is surely to embed a culture of receptiveness to AI innovation within all businesses so that people begin to see the positive applications and adoption levels are high. If we can’t win the hearts and minds of the business community here, we may well fall behind.

One ray of light is the finding that adherence to GDPR better sets up European firms to deal with potential future global AI regulations.

Pick of the Week

The most thought provoking article of the week in my view was Alex Hern’s examination of MIT research which showcases global cultural differences on the ethics of AI. The researchers asked millions of people subtle variations of the famous morality puzzler, the “trolley problem”, but applied to the AI decision making of driverless cars. As Hern details, responses varied globally, with people in the south more likely to protect youth and sacrifice the elderly than those in the Far East for example. Fascinating read –

News in Brief:

Around Whitehall:

UK establishes National Centre for Quantum Computing

Led by Greg Clark and BEIS, the Government announced the launch of a new quantum computing centre and a £235 million funding boost for research in the area. The overarching goal is to build the world’s first universal quantum computer. It is predicted that quantum computing will be a key accelerator of artificial intelligence innovation.

DWP uses AI analysis of benefits claims

DWP is using AI to flag potentially fraudulent benefits claims. The system even scours social media accounts to discover claimant behaviour that might contradict their claims, such as lavish holiday spending for those on unemployment, or physical activities for those claiming disability benefits.

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Instagram-able – that’s what you are

Instagram-able – that’s what you are

Written by Mark Dailey, Director at Madano.

For anyone of a certain vintage “Unforgettable” is a soft jazz classic. But these days in the ever-changing world of retail, the buzz word is “Instagram-able.”

You name it – everywhere in retail, the aim of the game is to attract Millennials and Gen Z by showcasing experiences curated for a market of one that can be relayed to their online community via Instagram.

This rush to embrace the Millennial-driven experiential revolution is affecting everything to do with retail – from mall layout to refurbishment, from removing car park spaces to nuking traditional anchor tenants, from embracing rooftop hot tub cinemas to selfie factories that guarantee priceless selfies in bespoke and outrageous situations.

It is the only real antidote to the disturbing news published by the BBC recently that 200 UK shopping centres are in danger of closing. The article talks about the demise of anchor tenants, the need to build ‘experience’ into aging malls in order to revitalise them and the fact that the UK is following the US in having too many dysfunctional shopping centres.

This update on the fast-changing world of retail was unveiled at a two-day event in Malaysia that Madano moderated. It was organised by the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) – the global organisation dedicated to supporting the shopping centre industry and its owners, operators and retailers. And the focus was on delivering this experiential approach.

It’s in Asia Pacific that you’re most likely to see shopping centres recalibrating and giving the new drivers of consumption – Millennials and Gen Z – what they crave.

Malls are newer there and can be reconfigured for experience more easily. Also there’s not an over capacity issue that is fatally undermining many North American malls. The U.S. has 23.6sq feet of shopping centre space per capita and Canada has 16.7sq ft. The UK leads in Europe at 4.5sq feet. By contrast China only has about 2.8sq ft.

So what are the emerging ‘experiential’ trends being driven by Millennials and Gen Z?

  • Non-anchor malls – malls of 300 specialty shops with no large anchor tenants are becoming more popular. The undifferentiated offering of the large department store or food hypermarket just doesn’t cut it with Millennials.
  • Multiple purpose malls –including a mix of retail, food and beverage, experiential and services like healthcare. One of fastest-growing mall segments? – offices and residential rental units – that’s right, why not live and work in the mall.
  • Shop sizes getting smaller – some stores are acting as little more than shop windows. Millennials and Gen Z don’t mind seeing and trying the product and then ordering it because the shop inventory is limited. They expect this kind of connectivity in distribution between store, website and warehouse.
  • Corporate social responsibility – malls are now in the vanguard of community social responsibility with programmes like disabled ambassadors and awareness initiatives focused around autistic shoppers. Again Millennials and Gen Z want to associate with brands that do well by doing good.
  • Park the parking – a major trend now emerging is for malls to convert car park spaces to retail use – Millennials and Gen Z don’t come to malls by car.

Millennials and Gen Z are driving huge changes in the dynamics of shopping centres. They expect retail to engage with them, are more interested in buying an experience or a meal than a product or a service, and want brand alignment on values and trust rather than value at the till and a smooth transaction.

And they are willing to trade their privacy to get this. 73% of all shoppers want to do business with companies that use personal data to make their experience more bespoke.

This opens the experience door to everything – AI curating offers for individuals, personalised robot shoppers, facial recognition identifying real time sales as you navigate down the shopping aisle.

In the future experiential mall, the phrase ‘retail therapy’ might refer instead to efforts to resuscitate those among us who have been overwhelmed by the pace of change. But it is definitely the way forward.

Madano’s Investment, Development, Regeneration (IDR) practice provides strategic communications for companies across every stage of the property lifecycle; from real estate investment and advisory, through to design, construction, development and management.

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