20 April 2018

A massive interest in Artificial Intelligence

Grand Opening

The Grand Opening of the new interdisciplinary SCIENCE AI Centre on 12 April 2018 demonstrated a massive interest in the possibilities within artificial intelligence and in the new centre with more than 300 participants and a long waitlist from both research and the public and private sector.

Below, we have gathered some of the important statements from the four speakers at the opening event. You can also watch some of the speeches in this video and see pictures below.

"The centre will ensure a vigorous environment for students and researchers"

John Renner, Dean, Faculty of Science

John Renner gave the opening speech, focusing on both the vision and the background of the centre.

- The SCIENCE AI Centre will organise and ensure progress in research and development in many fields of research; natural science but also humanity and social sciences. It will ensure that we have a vigirous environment for students and researchers, and that next generation candidates and PhD's have adequate possibilities to learn and use artificial intelligence.

- Artificial Intelligence does not stand alone. It is one piece of a large family of rapidly evolving areas within information and communication technologies. Based on the recommendations of the SCIENCE Digitalisation Council, the Faculty of Science has decided to advance its excellence within ICT by focusing on four central areas. (1) Artificial Intelligence. (2) More focus on the curriculum of IT of our educational programmes. (3) The ICT resources available for the researcher. (4) And the digitalisation of the Danish cultural heritage. Initially as a pilot project at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, where thousands of butterflies, some hundreds of years old, are waiting to become converted into numbers.

"The centre is a single point of entry for you"

Christian Igel, CEO of SCIENCE AI Centre, Professor at DIKU

The interim CEO of the new centre, Christian Igel, followed with a short introduction to the vision and purposes of the SCIENCE AI Centre.

- The centre is an umbrella organisation over many initiatives - both excisting and hopefully coming initiatives at the Faculty of Science, UCPH. There are already plenty of initiatives related to AI, data science, big data, statistical data analysis, high performance computing and so on. And this amount of buzzwords shows the need for an umbrella organisation to coordinate all these initiatives. So we have a single point of entry for you, if you're interested in a particular service.

- This term (AI, red.) has so many different interpretations - and this actually makes it very well-suited in terms of a centre. Because it has so many interpretations, it makes as a very nice term to integrate as many initiatives as possible. Because this is a centre that should integrate people across the different departments.

He finished by pin pointing the three main focus areas of the centre:

  • Education: Improving education and exploiting synergies in educations. E.g. new specialisations. But also education at other levels, e.g. Copenhagen Summer University with three AI related courses this summer.
  • Innovation: Support Danish industry to come up with new products and services in this growing application area og AI related business via both educating people on different levels and collaboration / doing joint projects.
  • Research: Important to carry out both very basic and also cross disciplinary research in AI at UCPH and public institutions in general.

"Artificial Intelligence is science fiction"

Corinna Cortes, Head of Google Research, NY - and distinguished alumni at UCPH

Corinna Cortes visited the opening to give a talk on Machine Learning for Detecting Fake News, but before she started, she briefly shared her thoughs on AI:

- When I think of AI, I think about smarts for the future. Smarts that we all dream of. But as such, I don't think of AI as a science - it's science fiction. It's all that we can imagine possibly could happen. But also - as in science fiction - some of our dreams, they can turn to nightmares. There are plenty of novels, movies, Big Brother watching you, The Matrix that depict what can go wrong when computers they take over. Therefore we have a very big dialogue and we need to have that dialogue at Google as well as in the whole machine learning community about responsible AI. It's important that we set guiding rules for how the building blocks of AI can be used.

- There are other new topics that have emerged, important topics, such as fairness and unbiasedness of machine learning algorithms. How can we guarentee that the recommendation of the algorithm is independent of race, age, sex, religion, sexual orientation - all these protected classes. These topics we didn't use to discuss and it's very welcome that we now discuss them.

After these statements, she continued with her talk on how Google addresses fake news and their "Fact Check" initiative.

"The potential of artificial intelligence is enormous"

Brian Mikkelsen, Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs

Brian Mikkelsen rounded up the opening event by taking a wider look at the position of artificial intelligence in Denmark.

- AI is here to stay, and it is crucial that Denmark is at the forefront of AI development and employment. Therefore, I am very happy, that the SCIENCE AI Centre is here to champion and coordinate AI efforts across different fields of research. Because even though Denmark is among the most innovative and digitalised societies in the world, we are not among the frontrunnes when it comes to the commercial adaption of digital technologies like AI.

- AI and advanced digital technologies have great potential to generate new business opportunities and to improve our life. So we need to reverse this threath and try to reach the forefront. We have to make a concentrated effort to provide a strong environment for digital innovation, unlocking the sinical potential of our rather fragmented ecosystem - not just the biological ecosystem but innovation ecosystem between universities, start-ups, established companies and the private sector - and we are not good at that in Denmark.

Gallery from the grand opening

Research posters on AI related research.

Research posters on AI related research.

Research posters on AI related research.

Head of Department of Computer Science, Mads Nielsen, was moderator at the opening event.

John Renner, Dean, Faculty of Science.

Christian Igel, CEO of SCIENCE AI Centre and professor at DIKU.

Mads Nielsen introducing guest speaker Corinna Cortes, Head of Google Research, NY.

Corinna Cortes, Head of Google Research, NY.

Corinna Cortes explaining the algorithms.

Brian Mikkelsen, Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs.

All speakers at the opening event.