Lisa de Bonis and Gary Jobe work for Havas, a communications and marketing firm who aim to demystify technology and find commercial/strategic applications for their customers. They frequently use cognitive systems like IBM Watson to understand imagery, language and unstructured data – enabling them to reason, learn and interact with the data.
Lisa demonstrated the power of today’s AI via Google Quick Draw, which can recognise pretty basic hand-drawn pictures, based on millions of examples of drawings of the same subject by other people.
Perhaps the most compelling example was Lisa/Havas’s involvement in EagleAI – a commission by ITV News during the recent US Elections. Given that news organisations all had access to the same polls, ITV News wanted a different angle. Havas had just 4 weeks to put together a system that could analyse speeches, tweets, blog posts, debates from the election campaign. The aim was to use AI to determine the main motivators for the electorate and provide insight. Whilst traditional pollsters predicted a Clinton win, EagleAI predicted a Trump win, and found he was in the lead throughout (being more in touch with the motivations of the voters).
This evening’s lecture at the IET was given by Chris Aylett of the Motorsport Industry Association. Chris gave a fast-paced overview of the work of motorsport engineers within their own industry and the increasing crossover into other sectors. He is a fan of horizontal innovation, the application of under-used skills and capacity within a firm to satisfy demand from clients in other industries.
This is particularly appropriate for the world-class unique capabilities of R&D-based motorsport suppliers in the UK who are able to resolve disparate engineering problems, and do so very quickly.
Particular examples were given by speakers from Wirth Research, Prodrive and Lentus Composites. The latter were responsible for the design of the Team GB track bikes which did rather well at the Rio Olympics – having been developed in just 13 months.
There was also plenty to reference from the inspirational life story of Sir Henry Royce. Despite having only one year of formal schooling, he became an apprentice engineer and ultimately started his own business making cranes. Not only did he expand into making motor cars and design the first aero-engine to fly over 400mph (which was developed into the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin engine in WWII Spitfires) – he also designed the bayonet lightbulb.
This is the first meeting I’ve been to at the IET since the refurbishment of the premises at Savoy Place, London.
The location has always been amazing, but now the venue makes the most of it, with new entertainment space on the first floor leading to balconies that overlook the River Thames.
The presentation by Murat Basarir covered a Joint Venture by Arup and Mitsui to trial 8 electric buses on an urban bus route in Milton Keynes. The linear route is 24km long and takes about 50 minutes from one end to the other. Whilst they considered many battery charging options, they decided to install wireless charging plates into the road at the terminals, giving the bus 10 minutes to top-up before it turns round and runs the route in the opposite direction. There’s no need for the driver to physically plug in or swap batteries, so s/he gets a ten minute breaks, as per routine with diesel buses. The regular top-ups increase the range of the bus, so that it only needs a longer, trickle charge overnight back at the depot.