September 2023

37 36 Data scientists aim to uncover patterns within mountains of data. It's about wielding the power of technology and statistics to transform raw information into actionable insights to drive innovation and informed decision-making in our data-driven world. Paul Gailey, studying his Master’s of Data Science at King’s College London, shares his journey into the world of AI and sheds light on the dynamic relationship between these two fields. Data Science and AI: A Symbiotic Relationship "When it comes to Data Science and AI, it's all about the fundamentals," Paul says. In his master’s program, he delves into the core principles, including big data management, data quality assessment, statistics, and the critical evaluation of AI models. Data Science, he notes, provides a holistic view of data, with machine learning as a key component. How social media algorithms led to studying AI Paul’s journey into the world of AI began with a fascination for data. “I’ve always had this obsession for data,” he admits. But, Paul’s specific interest in AI had a surprising origin – social media. “I installed TikTok and I was immediately hooked.” After a couple of months of spending too much time on TikTok, he realized that most likely, this was harmful to himself, so he deleted it. It was his realization of the machine learning algorithms behind his social media addiction that prompted him to explore AI’s potential for responsible use. “My interest in AI comes from my belief that it can be used in a safe and trusted manner.” Eventually, he realized that Data Science was his calling. Math Matters: The Foundation of AI Studies Paul loves math, which is good, because mathematics is undeniably vital in the world of AI. "You should be quite comfortable with statistics and calculus," he says. In high school, Paul studied HL IB Mathematics. At university he completed engineering math and physics before starting this master’s degree. He acknowledges that math is an integral part of the AI field, and it can become complex and non-intuitive, but he tells students not to be discouraged. AI: should we see it as a threat? Regarding the ongoing debate about the pros and cons of AI, Paul identifies as an optimist. Paul feels that AI is a tool, not a threat. “I'm an optimist, so I naturally see all the positives of AI.” In his work in the field of big data, he has harnessed the power of AI to automate many tasks, allowing him to work more efficiently while maintaining the quality of his work. "AI has the power to automate tasks, analyze large sets of data, and even assist in complex decision-making processes," he notes enthusiastically. It’s a question of how you want to apply the technology. For me that is in safe and trusted deployment of the models, for others it will be applied to healthcare, transportation, etc. However, he is also cautious about the hasty application of AI without proper evaluation. "AI systems can inadvertently perpetuate biases, make incorrect decisions, or even cause harm," he warns. He emphasizes the need to ask the right questions before implementing AI solutions. "AI can't be critical of itself, and I don't think it ever will be," he asserts. He recommends reading The AI Delusion by Gary Smith for those concerned about AI's impact on job prospects. Paul’s message is clear: AI is a powerful tool that, when wielded responsibly, can transform industries and make the world a better place. AI in Action: Working at a new, innovative Startup Paul's exploration of AI doesn't stop at his studies. He has joined a startup that focuses on utilizing AI models, such as Large Language Models, to enable users to interact with their utility bills in multiple languages. Additionally, the startup aims to help users optimize their energy usage by suggesting the most cost-effective times to run appliances, or automatically switching to renewable energy sources when available. "We are trying to build a user-friendly interface for both consumers and utility companies," Paul states. Paul’s journey from a student who loved math in high school to harnessing AI in optimize utilities, highlights the varied opportunities in a career involving AI. Mastering Data Science and AI: a universit y student’s journey