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News > Old Boy News > Old Boy wins 2021 National Bionics Innovation Prize

Old Boy wins 2021 National Bionics Innovation Prize

24 Sep 2021
Old Boy News
Dr. Nigel Greenwood (1984) with colleague Mr. Alex Muirhead.
Dr. Nigel Greenwood (1984) with colleague Mr. Alex Muirhead.


Class of 1984

Nigel Greenwood (Nansen, 1984) builds the AI mind for a bionic pancreas, wins the 2021 National Bionics Innovation Prize.

The last twenty months have been a rollercoaster for Nigel Greenwood (Nansen,1984) and his team. Nigel is a mathematician who has developed new forms of evolutionary machine learning (ML) and adversarial artificial intelligence (AI). Instead of using conventional AI based on artificial neural networks (a rough mathematical model of how neurons process information; the common basis for ML), he has spent decades building a completely different form of ML, inspired by evolving ecosystems, and designed a new form of 'adversarial' AI that uses this-- the AI thinks by observing the conflict between smaller AIs running on an 'Edge' device such as a laptop or smartphone.

From 2016 to 2020 Nigel was leading a team (MachineGenes) competing in the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, the global race to use AI to address some of humanity's most pressing problems, for an end-prize larger than the Nobel. In January 2020 MachineGenes was listed as one of the ten semi-finalists worldwide, the only semi-finalist from outside North America and Europe. Nigel was showcasing a medical application for his AI work: a machine-intelligent artificial pancreas, suitable for people with highly-unstable forms of type-1 diabetes. Unfortunately, by the time of the Semifinals in New York in February 2020, the team had been unable to find investors in time to do a clinical study before the Finals, then scheduled for Vancouver in April 2020, so they were unable to continue in the AI XPRIZE. Within four weeks, with COVID-19 suddenly underway, the Finals were postponed by over a year.

The same day as the Semifinals, the US Patent Office awarded a US patent protecting his form of AI, declaring all of his claims to be globally novel, inventive and of industrial application.

Nigel's AIs have been busy re-designing, not only the insulin strategies for highly unstable type-1 diabetes, but also how insulin pumps should behave. His medical technology start-up company has now partnered with an American pump manufacturer, and is planning finally to get the clinical study done in Sydney early next year. His work was showcased in 2021 by the American Diabetes Association (81st Scientific Sessions). Most recently, in August this year his team won Australia's National Bionics Innovation Prize, for their design for a machine-intelligent automated bionic pancreas.

Congratulations Nigel on such a tremendous achievement!


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