The reality of the ‘Internet of Things’ – embedded, internet-connected intelligent systems that gather, analyse and share data – has brought natural language processing and artificial intelligence into the spotlight. Intelligent systems are commonplace, in digital televisions, smart meters, medical devices, cars, washing machines, smartwatches. Their ability to support and integrate with human activity grows as our ability to interpret human language, analyse context, and collect, aggregate and analyse data becomes more sophisticated. Making sense of data is at the heart of natural language processing and intelligent systems, providing techniques to help people interpret information and complete tasks, providing automated support that can anticipate human needs without direct human engagement, and analysing context in order to support adaptation to a changing environment. Natural language processing, information retrieval, network technologies, multimedia technologies and information systems all contribute to this evolution.
We develop innovative solutions that bring together results from different areas using ‘hybrid’ research techniques. For example, work on self-quantification builds on the integration of information retrieval, artificial intelligence, and visualisation techniques. The MK:Smart project demonstrates how urban analytics can deploy big data feeds to achieve sustainable economic growth and innovation, for instance in the design of digital infrastructure for novel transport solutions.