The European Learning and Intelligent Systems Laboratory (ELLIS) today announced the selection of 17 cities in 10 European countries and Israel, where it is establishing a project that it hopes will become AI research institutes interested in social impact.
Each selected site, in places like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tel Aviv and Zurich, will begin with approximately half a dozen AI researchers and sustained funding of at least 1.5 million euros a year for the next 5 years. The funds are intended to provide researchers with salaries that can compete with technology giants in an industry known for aggressively hiring the best talent. The units begin operating in the spring of 2020.
“One step towards realizing this vision of having these institutes is to create these units that are a bit like the seed. So if the units are successful, the plan is that it will grow and eventually become an institute, ”said Nuria Oliver, an artificial intelligence researcher and board member of ELLIS, to VentureBeat in an interview today at the Systems conference of Neural Information Processing (NeurIPS) in Vancouver Canada
At NeurIPS In Montreal last year, the most important machine learning minds in Europe came together to create ELLIS, a nonprofit organization that they hope will become a leading open science organization worldwide.
The Canadian Advanced Research Institute of Canada (CIFAR) initiative to invest in the Canadian AI ecosystem inspired the creation of ELLIS.
At NeurIPS in Vancouver this year, ELLIS also signed a letter of intent with the CIFAR program on Machine and Brain Learning, which is co-directed by the winners of the Turing Prize and the pioneers of deep learning Yann LeCun and Yoshua Bengio. The organizations plan to take joint actions, such as summer schools, workshops and simplified review processes for scholarship programs and exchange visits between Canada and Europe.
The objective of ELLIS is to attract and retain the best European AI talents and increase the impact of AI research by European authors.
The concern that Europe lags behind the United States and China in the development of AI was part of the motivation for the creation of ELLIS, Oliver said. For example, Elsevier discovers that Europe writes more research papers on AI than any other region on Earth, but his work is not as cited as that of researchers from other parts of the world.
"The reality is that Europe lags behind China and the United States in the (research) impact," Oliver said.
In addition to the need to maintain competitive salaries with companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, ELLIS identified the teaching load as a barrier for the best scientists, who must teach every week instead of advancing in their research career. ELLIS also touched rigid European attitudes about allowing scientists to interact with the industry or start their own business as another obstacle.
"Because we want both scientific excellence and social impact, and a great way to achieve social impact is through companies or new companies, another criterion is that people in their units will have the flexibility to interact with the industry or spin off on your own company while still an active investigator, "he said.