van der Schaar Lab

A reality-centric perspective on AutoML

While AI continues to advance in various domains, the urgency to conquer complex, human-centric challenges remains paramount.

However, the situation in healthcare is far from ideal. We stand not just a few breakthroughs away from resolving critical issues like the NHS in the UK or reigning in the exorbitant costs of US healthcare. The scope extends to other critical areas such as traffic management, energy sustainability, climate resilience, and financial stability.

Tackling these challenges stands as the ultimate mission for AI researchers—one deeply rooted in addressing the needs and complexities of humanity.

The Reality-Centric AI Agenda

The reality-centric AI agenda is a paradigm shift that places the problem at the forefront, rather than the methodology. Traditional AI often focuses on standardized problems and incremental benchmark improvements. In contrast, reality-centric AI aims to understand, formalise, and address complex, human-centric problems, ultimately empowering us to find innovative solutions.

Read everything about our case for Reality-Centric AI here

Embracing a reality-centric approach calls for harnessing the complete arsenal that machine learning and AI offer. It’s imperative to leverage a continuously evolving spectrum of methods and models to conquer intricate challenges. Yet, the journey to deploying reality-centric AI is not without its hurdles. The reality-centric agenda demands a fundamental reconfiguration of our AI perspective.

Challenges for Reality-Centric AutoML

1. Time-to-Event Analysis (Survival Analysis): In scenarios where not all events of interest have occurred within a study period, known as censoring, time-to-event (TTE) analysis plays a crucial role. While this is vital for healthcare, it’s equally applicable to finance (credit risk modelling, customer churn prediction), smart cities (infrastructure failure prediction, emergency response time modelling), engineering (reliability engineering, aircraft engine maintenance), and energy (power grid failure prediction, wind turbine reliability).

2. Time-Series Forecasting/Sequence Prediction: Time-series data is prevalent in domains like finance (risk management, fraud detection), engineering (system monitoring, quality control), energy (demand forecasting, renewable energy forecasting), and healthcare (patient monitoring, disease outbreak prediction). AutoML faces the challenge of selecting optimal models that adapt to changing temporal patterns and diverse model architectures.

3. Causal Effect Inference: Estimating treatment effects when counterfactual outcomes are unobservable is a persistent challenge. While this is vital in healthcare, it also has applications in finance (personalized investment strategies), smart cities (adaptive services), and energy (dynamic traffic management).

4. Imputation: Missing data is a ubiquitous issue in real-life datasets. HyperImpute, an AutoML solution, addresses this challenge by iteratively imputing likely values, making it applicable across various scenarios.

5. Uncertainty Estimation: Trustworthy prediction is essential, especially when predicting prediction intervals with Conformal Prediction (CP). AutoCP aims to automate the selection of conformal algorithms and ML model hyper-parameters for datasets.

The Power of AutoML

AutoML is not limited to healthcare; it’s a versatile tool for tackling complex problems across diverse fields. It empowers researchers and practitioners to select the right methodologies and models for the specific challenges they face, all while embracing the complexities of the real world.

1. Finance: Unraveling the Future using Time-to-Event Analysis and Causal Effect Inference

  • Credit Risk Modeling: Peering into the Future of Borrowers – Predicting the Time Until Loan Default.
  • Customer Churn Prediction: The Clock Ticks for Loyalty – Anticipating Customer Departures and Crafting Retention Strategies.
  • Personalised Investment Strategies: Tailoring Wealth Journeys – Crafting Bespoke Investment Portfolios for Every Client.

2. Smart Cities: Predicting, Adapting, and Optimising – Time-to-Event Insights and Effect Estimation in Urban Living

  • Infrastructure Failure Prediction: Cracking the Code of City Health – Forecasting Critical Infrastructure Failures.
  • Emergency Response Time Modeling: Racing Against Crisis – Optimizing Response Times for Public Safety.
  • Adaptive Services: Energy Tailored to You – Customizing Energy Supply for Sustainable Urban Living.
  • Dynamic Traffic Management: Navigating the Urban Maze – Real-Time Traffic Solutions for Individual Drivers.

3. Engineering: Engineered Resilience – Time-to-Event Analysis in Machinery and Aviation

  • Reliability Engineering: Clocking Machine Lifespans – Preventive Maintenance for Downtime Reduction.
  • Aircraft Engine Maintenance: Pioneering Aviation Safety – Predicting Engine Maintenance with Precision.

4. Energy: Empowering Sustainable Power – Time-to-Event and Effect Estimation shaping the future in energy

  • Power Grid Failure Prediction: Illuminating the Energy Horizon – Precise Planning for Grid Reliability.
  • Wind Turbine Reliability: Harnessing the Wind – Ensuring Optimal Energy Generation through Timely Maintenance.
  • Efficiency and Sustainability: The Time Advantage – Mastering Planning, Maintenance, and Risk Mitigation for Sustainable Energy.

As we journey into this new era of reality-centric AI, AutoML stands at the forefront, enabling us to navigate the intricacies of human-centric problems and ushering in a brighter, more informed future across various domains.