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David Clifton is Professor of Clinical Machine Learning in the Department of Engineering Science, and a scientific adviser at Sensyne Health.

Areas of interest

Professor Clifton focuses on clinical AI, a branch of AI/machine learning that combines clinical knowledge with an algorithmic approach to designing systems for use in healthcare. Methodologically, this approach includes deep learning and generative probabilistic models. He has a strong interest in translation in systems that are used with patients, including into the NHS within the UK, and into Chinese hospitals via his lab's second site, at Suzhou in China. He is the research director of Sensyne Health plc, a publicly listed company in clinical AI that translates the results of his research into healthcare. He also has interests in improving quality of life in resource-limited settings, where he works with the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit of Vietnam, and in water monitoring systems in Kenya and Bangladesh. The latter was awarded the inaugural Vice-Chancellor's Innovation Prize.

What makes Oxford such a good place to work in AI?

Oxford has one of the largest, leading medical sciences divisions in the entire world, which offers a prime location in which to develop AI approaches for healthcare. Theoretical and applied AI are very strong at Oxford, which provides a fertile ground for research.

What is the biggest opportunity or challenge in AI?

The biggest risk to AI at the moment is the hype that surrounds it – we witnessed the bursting of an 'AI bubble' in the late 1990s/early 2000s, in which actual progress could not live up to the claims that were made. There are reasons to be optimistic this time around, with vast quantities of data now being routinely available in many spheres – but the need to deliver systems of tangible value remains as important as ever. This is one area in which Oxford excels: Oxford AI can be found in everything from novel healthcare systems to self-driving cars to financial systems and beyond. 

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