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Meet the PhD student helping the homeless with Artificial Intelligence

· Harrison Wilde from Blackpool is on a mission to help those sleeping rough through the use of machine learning

· Harrison is a recipient of the Feuer International Scholarship in Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the University of Warwick

· By using algorithms to prioritise those in need, Harrison is helping a charity getting homeless people the services that they require, whether that be food, education or shelter

As homelessness in the UK increases, one PhD student at the University of Warwick is on a mission to help those in need using AI algorithms, helping charities reach as many people sleeping rough as possible following alerts from members of the public.Harrison Wilde, Feuer Scholar at University of Warwick

The Feuer International Scholarship in Artificial Intelligence is an opportunity for students with a keen interest in AI and Computer Science to research PhD projects of their choice working with the Alan Turing Institute and industry partners, as well as receive top mentoring and potential investment opportunities.

The PhD scholarship is funded by successful Warwick alumnus Jonathan Feuer, chairman and co-founder of Eigen technologies, and was established to create a group of extremely talented, academically brilliant, world-leading young researchers who will go on to have careers in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

One such recipient of this scholarship is Harrison Wilde. Originally from Blackpool, he was the first person from his family to go to University; after completing an undergraduate degree in Data Science at the University of Warwick he was ready to begin pursuing a Masters degree in Statistics. However, he also applied to the Feuer scholarship on the advice of his supervisor in a bid to begin a PhD sooner.

After being successful in the application and interviews Harrison officially became the second Feuer Scholar at the University of Warwick. He decided to dedicate his PhD to helping those in need and to ensuring the ethical and fair development of machine learning and artificial intelligence methodology in a world that is shaped more by these disciplines every day.

Harrison’s research regards how AI can be used to better serve vulnerable people and minorities, alongside work on fundamental improvements to learning and doing inference on privatised datasets.

He spends a lot of time working with collaborators at The Alan Turing Institute in London, including the charity Homeless Link, who have a platform called StreetLink that allows members of the public to raise alerts for people sleeping rough so that outreach and aid can be provided to them.The three scholars together, focusing on Harrison Wilde

Currently StreetLink Is volunteer run, and they can only find 14% of the people that are reported to them. However, Harrison has used machine learning to predict the outcomes of alerts so that they can be prioritised for review, increasing the rate at which homeless people are found by 18% when tested on historical data. He comments:

“Being able to use the resources and network at the Turing Institute and its connections to other Universities has enabled me to apply my research in AI to a real world situation, going beyond just writing a paper to now seeing it close to deployment where it can have a positive impact.

“Without the Feuer scholarship I’d likely still be studying for my Masters, but now I can have a real impact whilst challenging myself and collaborating with leading academics. With this scholarship I can develop techniques in AI to help more people in the real world and contribute to the education of the next generation of researchers in the field.”

Harrison’s research is currently focused on evidencing the positive impact of these technologies when implemented in resource-constrained NGOs and charities. Working with collaborators in industry and academia he hopes to oversee the deployment of these models and continue to improve them in the coming months in order to maximise the positive impact they can have on people sleeping rough.

He is also concerned with ensuring that the models in deployment are not biased or unfair in the way that they make suggestions. He is also working on ways to robustify Bayesian Inference in the presence of outliers and noise in privatised settings, a method of learning from data commonly used in medicine and other critical applications to build predictive outcome models and more.

Jonathan Feuer, Warwick alumni and founder of Feuer International Scholarship in AI at Warwick comments:

“Having co-founded an AI company which has just passed its B series round, I am keen encourage the next generation to address and crack the major imponderables of our time. This AI scholarship has no boundaries to prevent cutting edge exploration - it is down to the individual to make that determination. Besides funding this scholarship I have also provided input and advice to the scholars as they map the path from research to real life applications.”

To apply for the Feuer Scholarship please visit: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/dc/schols_fund/scholarships_and_funding/feuer/applyonline/

The deadline is March the 13th

ENDS

4 MARCH 2020

NOTES TO EDITORS:

High-res images available at:

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/february2020/scho_17.jpg
Feuer International Scholar student Harrison Wilde

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/february2020/scho_31.jpg
The three scholars together, focusing on Harrison Wilde

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/february2020/scho_02.jpg
Caption: The three Scholars together. Left to right: Funmi Kesa, Aparajita Haldar, Harrison Wilde

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk