Professor Tomás Ward wants to look beyond the fear of Artificial Intelligence and to focus on how it can improve human health, productivity and decision making
In his recent inaugural lecture as AIB Chair in Data Analytics at Dublin City University, Professor Tomás Ward outlined how research in the area of wearable sensors and machine learning is expanding our knowledge of how artificial intelligence (AI) can improve everyday lives.
Wearable sensors and mobile technology
In a lecture entitled ‘You and AI are made for each other: Living better, through machine learning’, Prof Ward explored how combining data on human behaviour, collected through wearable sensors and mobile technology, with machine learning can assist us to work more productively, sleep better, move better, eat healthier and even allow us to think more creatively.
In a wide-ranging lecture, Prof Ward encouraged his audience to look beyond the fear that exists in public discourse around Artificial Intelligence and to instead focus on its potential to improve lives.
Citing examples from his own research experience, he described how machine learning can be applied to large volumes of data to help rehabilitate stroke victims, to detect a seizure in a baby in a neonatal intensive care unit and to understand how individuals remember and how they make financial decisions.
Prof Ward said: “Artificial intelligence is not necessarily ushering in a dystopia for us all. I want to show how AI can help us learn more about ourselves, improve ourselves and live better lives.
'Facilitate better understanding of what makes us human'
"My own research in taking wearable sensing together with artificial intelligence to track human health and performance is part of wider research efforts internationally to facilitate better understanding of what makes us human. AI has a major role to play in this effort and it promises a better future for all.”
Prof Ward was announced as the AIB Chair in Data Analytics in DCU’s School of Computing in 2018.
His appointment to this position, the first of its kind in Ireland, was made possible through the support of AIB who pledged five years of funding for the Chair, in addition to support to recruit a post-doctoral research fellow and a PhD student.
Since his appointment, Prof Ward has provided academic and research leadership in the area of data analytics at DCU, with a focus on the democratisation of technologies. His research aims to enable individuals and businesses, in contexts outside of laboratory settings, to harness the potential of machine learning to better understand human decision making.
Professor Brian MacCraith, president of DCU, said: "The university’s partnership with AIB continues to be highly productive. Its investment in the AIB Chair of Data Analytics enables DCU to further develop the university’s world-class research capabilities in a rapidly changing field.
"AIB’s support has allowed DCU to attract an internationally recognised researcher in Prof Tomás Ward, whose pioneering work enables us to harness the huge potential of artificial intelligence.”
'Data science will increasingly become a key area of the economy'
Robert Mulhall, managing director, consumer banking with AIB said: “Data science will increasingly become a key area of the economy and there is a real opportunity for Ireland to become a leader in this space.
"AIB is proud to partner with DCU in sponsoring the AIB Chair of Data Analytics, a first in Ireland.” Professor Ward concluded his lecture with an overview of an exciting new study which he is developing in collaboration with AIB.
"This research will analyse data on economic decision making, gathered outside of a laboratory through the use of our smartphones, to understand the context and traits that contribute to our decision making idiosyncrasies that may not always lead to the most optimal choices."