Artificial intelligence is a hot topic in theoretical and applied research, as well as in general discussions about the profound impact it may have on individuals, industries and economies.
The new Centre for Artificial Intelligence at UTS (UTS: CAI) will focus on the theoretical foundations and advanced technologies that will create intelligent machines with greater capacity for perception, learning and reasoning.
“Establishing this centre gives us the opportunity to explore beyond core technology and into the impact of our discoveries. This includes the ethics of artificial intelligence, such as interrogating the way it will impact the future of work; and moral decisions we will need to explore around developments such as driverless vehicles,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Glenn Wightwick told guests at the launch event.
NSW Chief Scientist Professor Mary O’Kane pointed to Australia’s well-established research into AI, which included her own experience gaining a PhD in the 1970s at the NSW Institute of Technology, now UTS. Even then, it had “the best, most creative and liveliest AI group in Australia. It was sheer madness – the research we did, the fun we had,” she said.
From that “far fringe of academic endeavour”, Professor O’Kane said, AI has become mainstream and UTS: CAI is at the forefront of developments in machine learning, social robotics, business intelligence, computer vision, computational intelligence, brain-computer interface, data science and information systems.
She commended UTS for creating a centre that signals to the AI world the university’s intention to extend its significant position, with extensive linking to other disciplines.
The director of the centre, Distinguished Professor Jie Lu, said CAI will help position UTS as a leader in research excellence and become a key international research hub.
“The CAI is already producing cutting-edge research in specialist areas and will provide new opportunities for our highly specialised academic team in leadership and development,” she said.
The centre will have five dedicated labs which will draw links between collected data, behaviour and knowledge exchange; meet the needs of organisations for advanced knowledge of behaviours; provide accurate analysis of big data; and help to identify and develop solutions.
The labs are:
- Decision Systems and E-Service Intelligence (DESI) – development of theories, methods and software systems to help organisations make more informed decisions using big data
- Computational Intelligence and Brain Computer Interface Lab - human performance augmentation and human machine autonomous systems
- The Magic Lab – Australia’s leading social robotics group, conducting trans-disciplinary research into disruptive technology
- Knowledge Infrastructure - computational intelligence that can examine, extract and transport knowledge
- Data Science and Knowledge Discovery - data mining, machine learning and computer vision to help organisations solve problems and make smarter decisions
Visiting academic Professor Ah Chung Tsoi, University of Macau, told guests that while AI has matured and is attracting considerable commercial investment, it is the field of deep learning that is challenging universities to play a major research role.
“A computer is only as intelligent as we teach it to be, and there are many challenges such as the ability for AI to pick up the implicit knowledge that humans have. This can’t be done yet. Humans have unique feelings that machines will never be able to have.”
AI research at UTS is different … it allows researchers freedom to work on fundamental problems they identify.
Professor Tsoi said Australian AI research is comparable to anywhere in the world.
“AI research at UTS is different from any other university as it allows researchers freedom to work on fundamental problems they identify,” he said.
“I believe CAI will do really great things – not many centres have so many academic staff and students who are challenged to be enthusiastic and creative by pursuing ground-breaking work.”
The centre’s research director is Professor Ivor Tsang, whose research expertise is in machine learning on big data. The centre’s co-director is Distinguished Professor CT Lin, co-author of Neural Fuzzy Systems and author of Neural Fuzzy Control Systems with Structure and Parameter Learning.