Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Article excerpt

Mike Tipping is an expert in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence and big data. From 2013 to 2015, he was director of science at Featurespace, a Cambridge-based start-up that pioneered "adaptive behavioural analytics", a new form of data analysis used to prevent fraud in some of the world's largest banks and insurance companies. He was a member of the team that started Microsoft's Research Laboratory in Cambridge in 1998 and invented and built the "Drivatar" model still used in Microsoft's Xbox title Forza Motorsport. This year, he joined the University of Bath's Institute for Mathematical Innovation (IMI) as professor of data science

Where and when were you born?

Newcastle-under-Lyme, 1968.

How has this shaped you?

I've never really considered myself to be a function of time and place, but I enjoyed growing up in North Staffordshire and I still regularly revisit. I was lucky to have had thoughtful parents who worked hard to provide me with opportunities that they never had (I was the first in my family to go to university) yet without putting me under pressure. I think I was also fortunate to benefit from a very good local school education.

What will your role entail, and what do you hope to achieve in it?

My role is somewhat multifaceted, but primarily I will be helping the IMI to realise its vision of developing and disseminating new mathematics research through project partnerships with both academics and industry. My brief focuses on data science, and it's evident that we're in an exciting new era for data-driven applications - everything from movie recommendations to medical diagnostic systems and even self-driving cars.

You've moved from the private sector to Bath having previously worked in higher education at Cambridge. What drew you back to the academy?

I was drawn back by the opportunity to re-engage in fundamental science. At the same time, I hope that the industrial experience will have ongoing value. Seeing the work done in the commercial world, and recognising how some technology trends have been influencing business, has refreshed my perspective on which directions are important scientifically and which research questions still need addressing.

It has been claimed that there are many jobs a robot can do as well as, and often better than, a human. Can you see a scenario in which human agency is no longer needed in the working world?

From a scientific or technological viewpoint, I see no impediment to robots being able one day to take on the large majority of jobs currently undertaken by a human, although I do think this day is a long time off. …

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