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Centre for Artificial Intelligence launches

3 April 2017

UTS Centre for Artificial Intelligence

While there is no consensus on a definition of Artificial Intelligence, it is one of the ‘hot’ topics in both theoretical and applied research, and in popular discourse about the profound impact it may have on individuals. industries and economies.  

The new Centre for Artificial Intelligence (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.

Chief Scientist Professor Mary O’Kane AC attended the launch event on 31 March, and drew on Australia’s well-established research into AI.  This included her own experience gaining a PhD in AI in the 1970s at the NSW Institute of Technology, better known now as 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!”

From that ‘far fringe of academic endeavour’, 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.

Prof O’Kane commended UTS for creating a Centre which signals to the AI world our research, education and ethics, and intention to extend our already significant position, with extensive linking to other disciplines.   

Centre Director Distinguished Professor Jie Lu said that CAI will help position UTS as a leader in research excellence and become a key international research hub through research collaboration and teaching.

“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.

“We will have five dedicated labs making interconnections between collected data, behaviour and knowledge exchange, meeting the needs of organisations for advanced knowledge of behaviours, and accurate analysis of big data, helping to identify and develop solutions.

The labs are:

  • Decision Systems and E-Service Intelligence (DESI) - develop theories, methods and software systems to help organisations make better, 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, a 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 to solve problems and make smarter decisions

Speaking at the launch, visiting academic Professor Ah Chung Tsoi, University of Macau, referred to the maturation of AI, currently attracting considerable investment to achieve commercial outcomes.  However, he believes that the field of deep learning is sufficiently challenging universities to have a major research role, creating an environment for examining, deep and real problems.

“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 feeling that machines will never be able to have…”

Professor Tsoi said Australian AI research is comparable to anywhere in the world and that UTS: CAI will be a force to be reckoned with.

“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 ARC Future Fellow Professor Ivor Tsang, whose research expertise is Machine Learning on Big Data. CAI has integrated a set of excellent researchers in the main areas of AI, with four distinguished AI professors; four past/current ARC College of Experts and 100 PhD students.

CAI research has already led to significant impacts in both academia and industry, developing systems for governments, industry partners, and research institutions.

“Systems include data mining platforms for recommendations and user modelling, question answering, large scale information retrieval systems, intelligent vision systems for efficient video and image retrieval, detection and indexing. 

“Our researchers consistently placed top of many international competitions in image, video and multimedia analytics,” said Centre Co-Director, Distinguished Professor CT Lin, co-author of Neural Fuzzy Systems and author of Neural Fuzzy Control Systems with Structure and Parameter Learning.

Details of each lab's specialist areas and staff, and opportunites for research and further study can be found on the CAI website