Charting a path to a better tomorrow with AI – in Manchester

Last month, Manchester Digital put on another great event: The Member Conference: “Future Vision Manchester – charting a path to a better tomorrow”. In this GFT blog, Heather Statham examines the key takeaways from the event and focuses in on the latest trends and developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

During this recent Manchester Digital event, I had the privilege of listening to several very interesting talks from tackling carbon emissions in website development to how best to navigate funding in the north of England. However, the most memorable session was the one in the afternoon which included GFT’s very own Simon Thompson (Head of Data Science) on a panel entitled  ‘Navigating the Future: AI and Human Workforce Integration’ 

My two key takeaways from this AI panel discussion were:  

1. AI won’t replace us 

I found it interesting that the headlines today remind me of some that I have seen in the libraries of Manchester dated from the 1850s which warn of automation in manufacturing replacing humans. To some extent this is true, but as humans we adapted and created new industries. In the same vein there will be challenges with AI, but the consensus among the panel and myself is that AI will be an incredibly valuable tool. It may change what we do in our jobs, and the way we do it but if used correctly it will improve society and unlock professions we may not have even thought of yet.  

2. Do proceed with caution  

That saying reigns true: with great power comes great responsibility! AI has a lot of potential benefits and use cases. However, organisations need to be diligent in the development and training of these models. Many of the cases discussed during the event in Manchester were in the public sector or banking. If your AI provides someone the incorrect information, they may miss out on essential service or face financial exclusion – something Manchester is keen to avoid. Ethics, safeguarding, guard rails and policy should be considered from the beginning of these projects. Without these, your AI project is at best unsuccessful, but more likely at worst to cause negative financial and social impacts.  

Throughout the panel discussion, Simon reminded the audience (in tongue in cheek) to read his book (Managing Machine Learning Projects: From Design to Deployment) to learn more about these concepts. I, for one, have heeded his advice and have my copy so I can keep up with the next generation of AI.   

If you and your organisations find yourself wanting to explore the use cases for AI but don’t know where to start, GFT can help.  Discover more about our AI capabilities here


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