News & Views
How is AI Used in Labs?
Jul 28 2021
From diagnostics to financial analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) is reimagining laboratory operations. Advances like quantum computing have not only improved efficiency and accuracy across the board but have also vastly increased the capabilities of laboratories. Below, we explore how AI is used in laboratories and the role it’s playing in advancing modern science.
Can robots be trained as chemists? For scientists at the University of Glasgow, the answer is a resounding yes. Over the past few years, the team has been designing a desktop-sized robot chemist tasked with the time-consuming and repetitive job of creating chemicals. The robot carries out tasks using simple instructions from an in-house programme called SynthReader. Eventually, the team hope SynthReader will become a staple in laboratories around the world. It’s this type of collaborative research that will continue to accelerate scientific discoveries and advance modern science.
“We’re hoping that the system we’ve built will massively expand the capabilities of robot chemists and allow the creation of a huge database of molecules drawn from hundreds of years’ worth of scientific papers,” says Professor Cronin, Regius Professor of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow.
Designing next-generation solutions
Artificial intelligence has empowered researchers with the tools to design smarter and more cost-efficient solutions for a variety of applications. For example, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, Loughborough University in the East Midlands and the University of York are currently developing game changing ‘cyber seed’ technology. As well as reimagining accessibility within the manufacturing sector, the technology could have exciting implications for the medical and bioengineering fields. Professor Paul Conway describes the approach as “agile” and asserts it will allow engineers to develop customised, patient-specific devices.
Are there national facilities for AI in the UK?
AI has some incredible benefits, but it comes at a cost. In the UK, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has teamed up with global computing giant IBM to launch the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI). Designed to offer British businesses and public sector groups access to AI and quantum computing technologies, the HNCDI program aims to boost innovation, support growth and stimulate the local economy.
Can SMEs get support for development of digital technologies? Absolutely. As well as public sector and government projects, the HNCDI will offer support to start-ups and SMEs. Find out more about the five-year programme worth an estimated £210 million in ‘De-risking uptake of Digital Technologies.'
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