Artificial Intelligence – An Overview

Insights - September 2019

Artificial intelligence is the term used to describe the advance of computers and machines to the point where they seem to be reasoning without input or extrapolating information based on incomplete data, by using traits usually thought of as human: abstract thinking, emotional responses and appreciation of aesthetic or artistic tendencies.


As a research discipline artificial intelligence (also called ‘machine learning’) began in 1956. Five attendees at a workshop at Dartmouth College became the forerunners of AI programming: Allen Newell, Herbert Simon, John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky and Arthur Samuel all posited that with the application of a comprehensive enough mathematical formula (algorithms and so on) machines could be programmed to respond to stimulus, and when faced with an unprogrammed variable would have the resources to devise a solution without needing more data.


They began by teaching computers to play checkers or draughts as the game was simple, with easily defined rules and strong adherence to logical outcomes. Within a very short time, the computer was ‘learning’ from each encounter, adapting gambits and moves to counteract those previously used against them.


It must be mentioned, however, that the beginning of the research discipline was based on ideas and discussions that had been around since Alan Turing posited the thought in the 1940s. Hence the Turing Test being the benchmark for successful AI-human interactions.

alan turing ai

Alan Turing



The issues faced by pioneers in AI mainly revolve around the fact that the processes behind human thought was then not largely understood. Even today, when we understand much more about the processes: physical, electrical and even emotional, behind thoughts and understanding, we are at a loss to precisely define what a thought is and how to replicate it.
Reducing everything to numbers – even to binary – gave these early AI scientists a platform on which to start out and this has stood the industry in good stead as the mathematics has advanced along with the technology.


The difference between a regular computer interaction and one that demonstrates artificial intelligence is when the computer reaches the limits of their programming and adapts previous experiences adding logical thought and probability to arrive at a reasonable ‘estimated’ outcome.
For example: the data is fed into the computer that house prices have gone up every year, except the beginning year of each decade at which point it falls thirty percent (for reasons unknown to the computer or those programming it).


7 Steps of Machine Learning 




Variables are added in: political upheaval, natural disasters, the general zeitgeist. Then, the data is filled in for the current year, and the computer is asked ‘how will prices perform next year?’ The computer will take all the available information, and will extrapolate a reasonable estimate of house prices. Should the following year end with a zero to indicate a new decade, the computer will allow for the usual thirty percent decline, even though little else indicates that this will happen.



Of course, this is a massively simplified description of AI processes, but it serves to show how the computer uses what might be called memory (past events) along with experience (current data) to arrive at logical conclusions. These mathematical steps are now so advanced that computers can ‘write’ unique texts based on certain authors’ style or set in certain locations.


ai process

The A.I. Process


The Future of A.I.

Perhaps more so than any other technology, A.I has the ability to transform our world beyond the scope of our imagination.


The speed at which A.I. has disrupted traditional industries over the last twenty years is staggering, and thanks to the constant loop of data being used to improve A.I., the rate of change is increasing with every passing year.


As celebrated author Ray Kurzweil puts it, “By the 2030s, the nonbiological portion of our intelligence will predominate.” In other words, the capacity of Artificial Intelligence to make key decisions in areas like geopolitics, government policy, and environmentalism, will overtake that of humans.

Some prominent A.I. theorists such as Elon Musk go even further, claiming humans will supercharge their brains with AI-based neocortexes, with potentially catashtophic consequences.



London: Home to the AI Boom

One might expect Silicone Valley to be home to the growth of AI businesses, but in fact the spiritual home of AI is in the heart of London.
Silicone Valley is a great place to go if you want to innovate with hardware and even software and app programming, but there seems to be an almost superstitious reluctance to engage with artificial intelligence in any except the most limited ways.

silicone roundabout london

London’s ‘Silicone Roundabout’, a tongue-in-cheek take on the US’ Silicone Valley



London has long been an aspirational destination for creative thinkers and entrepreneurs, and the field of artificial intelligence is open for exploration by both of these groups.
It has often been said – and is turning out to be nothing more than the truth – that this year’s school-leavers will be earning their living at jobs that have not been thought up as yet.


This is particularly true of AI work, as the field expands into other industries, raising questions that will need to be answered and requiring human input that is, as yet, an unknown quantity.
Young creative and business-minded people do not always know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, especially in today’s shifting world, where the economy is volatile and technological advance transform our lives from one day to the next.


Therefore, they come to London, to see what opportunities there are: in this way they learn about innovations and inventions that perhaps spark tremendous interest or ideas for products that are sure to become the next big thing.



Industries Being Transformed by AI


Advertising/ Data Analytics

You may not realise it but the growth of tailored advertising on social media is largely driven by artificial intelligence. These companies use cookies to ‘see’ what consumers are looking at, and how long they spend on particular product descriptions.


For example, say you need a new printer, one with scanning capability. So you search for these items online, ignoring any that do not have an inclusive scanner. The next time you go onto your social media page, suddenly all you have is advertisements for printers with scanners (unless you have opted out of ad-tracking).

This is because the computer has ‘realised’ that you are in the market for one of these items, and is flagging any entries that seem to match your requirements.
This is a long way from impersonal advertising when teetotal people would see alcohol adverts, tea drinkers would be pushed to buy coffee, and city dwellers would receive ads targeted for farmers, all alongside adverts for items they could and did use.

Google Adwords and their Analytics package is perhaps one of the best known examples of an AI driven marketing program.


Medical Profession

The day of logging in to consult your AI doctor is coming ever closer and for some procedures and tests is here already!
Medical records: medical records are, for the most part, digitised already. While this makes life easier for doctors, nurses and medical administrators, it also means that artificial intelligence can be set to run routine maintenance on patient files. This can help to flag up issues with patients who have multiple prescriptions as sometime medications can interact badly with each other – it is easy for human doctors to overlook a clash if the patient is very ill and needs a lot of medications, but a computer will effortlessly see the contraindications and draw it to the attention of the doctor.



Tests and diagnoses: Much of what a GP does all day involves examining patients and ascertaining if they are actually ill or if they are perhaps mildly undernourished, dehydrated or stressed – all of which can induce similar symptoms to some ailments. Occasionally a blood or urine test or a throat swab is needed to pinpoint a diagnosis before treatment can begin. All of these tasks could be completed by a machine who could advise patients to drink more water or that the doctor will be in touch with the results of their test. This will free up the doctor to give more time and consideration to the test results or to examining those patients who cannot be triaged out by the machine.



Surgeries: surgeons are already using artificial intelligence-assisted robots in the most delicate surgeries, such as brain operations in which the slightest mistake, even of a fraction of a millimetre can make the difference between success and disaster. The AI input helps to steady the doctor’s hands, minimising the minute involuntary movements and resisting any sudden movements that might harm the patient. AI can also help by dramatically magnifying or minimising aspects of the surgery, so the doctor can move their hand several centimetres, but the scalpel will move only a few millimetres. This allows for highly delicate, precise surgery that would not otherwise be possible.

Babylon GP is a London-based ‘digital care provider’ that is already working for the NHS. They are expanding into the North-west of England and should their successes continue, they will probably extend their services across the whole country and further afield.



Teachers, like doctors, spend a fair amount of time deciding if a child has educational issues, emotional distresses or are simply having a bad day, and this can take a lot of time. Artificial teaching assistants can help to pinpoint issues, feeding them up to the teacher who can then put a learning plan in place or intervene in other ways as deemed necessary. Autistic children who have issues with socialisation or who reject physical contact often get on better with more impersonal robots who never become offended or tired of answering the same or very similar questions over and over. This actually can help the child to become more social, as the AI can explain concepts like sharing and ‘good’ behaviour in a way that does not make the child feel guilty or bad.

LuxAI is a company that has created a small friendly autism-friendly teaching robot that is making great strides with children who have special educational needs. They are based in Luxembourg.



AI has been subject to several waves of interest over time, with expectations that were unfulfilled, put aside for a while, and then dusted off again when the technology and ideas matched up once again. As we are currently cresting an immense wave of technological advancements that has lasted the last forty or fifty years so far, now is the moment for AI and London to make their mark on the world.


If you work at an innovative UK-based A.I. company, you could be eligible for R&D tax relief. Get in touch now for a free assessment of what you could be owed by HMRC.

R&D Tax Credits Advisors. R&D Tax Credits Experts.


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Privacy PolicyScope

This policy applies to F. Initiatives and My R&D Claim™ which are both trading names of F. Initiatives Ltd, a company registered in England under number 09899833 whose registered office is at 10 John Street, London, United Kingdom, WC1N 2EB. The privacy policy explains how we use any personal information we collect about you when you use this website and our wider services.

What is personal data?

Personal data relates to any information about a natural person that makes you identifiable which may include (but is not limited to):

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What is sensitive personal data?

Sensitive personal data refers to the above but includes genetic data and biometric data.  For example:

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What is a Data Controller?

For general data protection regulation purposes, the “data controller” means the person or organisation who decides the purposes for which and the way in which any personal data is processed.

The data controller is F. Initiatives Ltd, 10 John Street, London, United Kingdom, WC1N 2EB. The data protection officer is Solenne Desprez Braun, who can be contacted at F. Initiatives Ltd, Albert Buildings, 49 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4N 4SA or on  or by calling 0207 653 1921.

Our Full Data Governance Policy can be found here.

What is a Data Processor?

A “data processor” is a person or organisation which processes personal data for the controller.

What is Data Processing?

Data processing is any operation or set of operations performed upon personal data, or sets of it, be it by automated systems or not. Examples of data processing explicitly listed in the text of the GDPR are: collection, recording, organising, structuring, storing, adapting, altering, retrieving, consulting, using, disclosing by transmission, disseminating or making available, aligning or combining, restricting, erasure or destruction.

What do we mean by Business to Business?

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What information do we collect about you and how?

  1. Initiatives Ltd, as a Data Controller, is bound by the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

You agree that we are entitled to obtain, use and process the information you provide to us to enable us to discharge the Services (as defined in our Letter of Engagement and supporting Schedules) and for other related purposes including;

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At F. Initiatives Ltd we take your privacy seriously and will only use your personal information to provide the Services you have requested from us, detailed in your Letter of Engagement and supporting Schedules and as we have identified above.  We will only use this information subject to your instructions, data protection law and our duty of confidentiality.

For Business to Business Clients and Contacts our lawful reason for processing your personal information will be “legitimate interests”.  Under “legitimate interests” we can process your personal information if: we have a genuine and legitimate reason and we are not harming any of your rights and interests.

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We collect information on our website to process your enquiry, deal with your event registration, give advice based on survey data and improve our services.  If you agree, we will also use this information to share updates with you about our services which we believe may be of interest to you.

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Transferring your information outside of Europe

As part of the services offered to you through this website, the information which you give to us may be transferred to countries outside the European Union (“EU”). For example, some of our third-party providers may be located outside of the EU.  Where this is the case we will take steps to make sure the right security measures are taken so that your privacy rights continue to be protected as outlined in this policy.  By submitting your personal data, you’re agreeing to this transfer, storing or processing.  Where our third-party supplies are in the US we have ensured that their services fall under the “Privacy Shield” whereby participating companies are deemed to have adequate protection and therefore facilitate the transfer of information from the EU to the US.

If you use our services while you are outside the EU, your information may be transferred outside the EU to give you those services.

Security precautions in place about data collected

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We may analyse your personal information to create a profile of your interests and preferences so that we can contact you with information relevant to you. We may make use of extra information about you when it is available from external sources to help us do this effectively. We may also use your personal information to detect and cut fraud and credit risk.


We would like to send you information about our services which may be of interest to you.  If you have consented to receive marketing, you may opt out at any point as set out below.

You have a right at any time to stop us from contacting you for marketing purposes.  To opt out please email:

How long will we hold your data for?

  • Marketing: We will hold your data for a period of 6 years with a review every 3 years.  You will have the opportunity to opt out or update or delete data at any point should you need to do so and details are set out in this policy as to how to do that.

  • Contracted Services: We will hold your data for 7 years in line with our regulatory requirements.

Access to your information, correction, portability and deletion

What is a Subject Access Request?

This is your right to request a copy of the information that we hold about you.  If you would like a copy of some or all your personal information, please email or write to us at the following address: Antoine Abbatucci, Managing Director - UK, F. Initiatives Ltd, Albert Buildings, 49 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4N 4SA. We will respond to your request within one month of receipt of the request.

We want to make sure your personal information is accurate and up to date.  You may ask us to correct or remove information you think is inaccurate by emailing or writing to the above address.

Objections to processing of personal data

It is your right to lodge an objection to the processing of your personal data if you feel the “ground relating to your particular situation” apply.  The only reasons we will be able to deny your request is if we can show compelling legitimate grounds for the processing, which override your interest, rights and freedoms, or the processing is for the establishment, exercise or defence of a legal claims.

Data Portability

It is also your right to receive the personal data which you have given to us, in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format and have the right to transmit that data to another controller without delay from the current controller if:

(a)    The processing is based on consent or on a contract, and

(b)    The processing is carried out by automated means.

Your Right to be Forgotten

Should you wish for us to completely delete all information that we hold about you:

  • Email: or

  • In Writing to: Antoine Abbatucci, Managing Director - UK, F. Initiatives Ltd, Albert Buildings, 49 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4N 4SA.

Other websites

Our website contains links to other websites.  This privacy policy only applies to this website so when you link to other websites you should read their own privacy policies.


If you feel that your personal data has been processed in a way that does not meet the GDPR, you have a specific right to lodge a complaint with the relevant supervisory authority.   The supervisory authority will then tell you of the progress and outcome of your complaint.  The supervisory authority in the UK is the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Changes to our Privacy Policy

We keep our privacy policy under regular review and we will place any updates on this web page.  This privacy policy was last updated on 03 January 2019 and the Version number is 1.2 in line with the new GDPR guidelines.

How to contact us

Please contact us if you have any questions about our privacy policy or information we hold about you:

  • By email:

  • Or write to us: Antoine Abbatucci, Managing Director - UK, F. Initiatives Ltd, Albert Buildings, 49 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4N 4SA.