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Interview with Nigel Willson

by | Apr 24, 2020 | Interviews,

Nigel Willson

Nigel Willson

Founding Partner at awakenAI

Key Topics:Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science, RPA, Cloud, Innovation, Future Technology
Location:United Kingdom

With over 30 years industry experience, Nigel has spent the last 20 years at Microsoft in his last role as European CTO. He is now working independently, as a Speaker, Advisor and Global Influencer on Artificial Intelligence and new technologies. He has been ranked amongst the top 20 Artificial Intelligence Influencers in the World for the last three years. He is founder of and co-founder of

How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?

I have always been fascinated at the speed of change in the technology industry, just over 20 years ago got my dream job with Microsoft. While at Microsoft I had over 10 different jobs from program management, consultant, architect and finally European CTO. working with such an innovative company and people, fuelled my passion for artificial intelligence and innovation – and in my last 5 years as CTO advising Enterprises on those areas.

What sub-topics are you most passionate about?

I love new technologies and innovation, and artificial intelligence is such a broad, exciting and rapidly changing topic area. My particular passion is making it (AI) accessible and understandable to as many people as possible, to help make sure it is used for good (ethical and responsible) and used by the many (not biased).

Who influences you within these topics?

I follow influencers on LinkedIn and Twitter as well as use events (physical and now mainly virtual !) to make new contacts and exchange options. There are obvious influencers like Fei-Fei Li, Andrew Ng, Ronald van Loon – but I also try and regularly seek out new & diverse opinions.

What challenges are brands facing in this space?

There are many challenges in the AI space, the biggest two are firstly overcoming the gap between a proof of concept and roll out, many projects stall after they have proved a technological solution that then feels to meet a business requirement. secondly creating a responsible and ethical solution, too many AI solutions affect personal security and privacy or create unintentional division through bias

What do you think the future holds in this space?

AI has been growing fast for many years, and has now been further fuelled by the recent pandemic. AI startups and solutions are everywhere and that will continue into the future. my hope is that we will see governance and regulation soon (similar to GDPR) for AI solutions to ensure that they are fair, ethical and transparent. Too many solutions come to market making wild claims and with unexplainable algorithms, the future has to be one where these solutions can be trusted and are for the benefit of everyone everywhere.

What brands are leading the way in this space?

As you would expect all the big tech brands are leading the way with artificial intelligence in one way or another, however proving that they are responsible, ethical and unbiased remains challenging.

If a brand wanted to work with you, which activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?

Open to speaking opportunities, especially around new and future technologies. Podcasts, video interviews, article writing also of interest.

What are your passions outside of work?

Outside of work I love to be outdoors, walking, trail running, cycling, kayaking, and also wood crafts, woodturning, wood carving. I also have three dogs that keep me busy and fit.

What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?

Directly via email or indirectly via Onalytica.