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Sir Nigel Shadbolt is Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Computer Science and Principal of Jesus College, Oxford.

Areas of interest

I work across a broad range of AI and human-centred computing topics including knowledge engineering, the semantic web, web science, open data and computational neuroscience. Most recently I have been focusing on understanding the theory and practice of building social machines; applications that succeed at web scale by integrating humans and computers to solve problems that are beyond any of the individual components.

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

The quality of the people: at every level from undergrads to postgrads, junior researchers to senior professors, the people here are outstanding. Combine this with the interdisciplinary nature of the University and constituent colleges, and you have an extraordinary environment for problem solving and knowledge creation.

What is the biggest opportunity or challenge in AI?

There are many opportunities and numerous challenges. One significant opportunity is the use of AI to enhance the science we do. For example, in the area of image recognition we have systems able to help human scientists detect important patterns in everything from cells to the whole brain, from novel materials to astronomy. One challenge is to ensure that our systems provide explanatory insight; it is not enough to have black boxes generating results whose reasoning is utterly opaque.

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