University of Sydney Launches $7.5 Million AI Research Center

By: Jeff Bertolucci| - Leave a comment

According to CIO, the University of Sydney is partnering with China-based robotics firm UBTECH to explore the untapped potential of artificial intelligence (AI). The cornerstone of this joint effort is a new $7.5 million AI research facility, the UBTECH Sydney Artificial Intelligence Centre. Efforts here will focus on the capabilities and challenges of intelligent machines such as drones, robots and self-driving cars.

Professor Dacheng Tao, a high-profile researcher who joined the University of Sydney’s School of Information Technologies in December, will lead the center. Tao’s research focuses on computer vision, deep and statistical learning and how each applies to medical informatics, neuroscience, robotics and video surveillance, CIO reports.

Developing Thinking Machines

With access to UBTECH’s robotics technology, the on-campus AI research lab will have the resources to explore substantive AI issues such as how intelligent, humanoid robots can contribute to how people communicate, learn and work.

“We’re working [toward] a future where humanoid robots walk out of our research center and into ordinary people’s households,” Tao told CIO.

UBTECH’s technology will provide Tao’s team with essential training, research and innovation in robotics and AI. The center aims to drive AI development by finding ways to endow machines with the ability to “perceive, learn, reason and behave,” notes Tao.

Ascending AI Technology

The lab is launching at a critical time as AI promises to transform how enterprises and consumers interact with the world around them. In health care, for instance, AI-based systems like IBM Watson analyze huge volumes of structured and unstructured data, including patient records and medical research, to help oncologists develop better treatment plans. With the volume of medical research doubling every three years, AI can quickly glean insights from information that might take humans years to analyze.

In the enterprise, cognitive and AI systems are rapidly becoming a key part of IT infrastructure, says IDC. The research firm forecasts global spending on AI solutions will achieve a compound annual growth rate of more than 54.4 percent through 2020, with revenues exceeding $46 billion.

Improving Lives Through AI Research

In a recent PwC survey of 2,500 consumers and business leaders, 63 percent of respondents agreed that AI can help solve some of the problems that contemporary society faces. Meanwhile, 67 percent of C-suite executives said they see the potential for AI to automate and optimize current business processes.

According to Tao, AI’s greatest attribute may be its ability to solve real-world problems and improve people’s lives.

“As humans, our perceptions of our environments allow us to understand events, make logical deductions and learn how to behave in certain situations,” Tao told CIO. “We expect that one day in the not-too-distant future, machines will be able to do these same things, just like us — or possibly even better.”

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About The Author

Jeff Bertolucci

News Writer

Jeff Bertolucci is a Los Angeles-based journalist specializing in technology, digital media, and education. His work has appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, InformationWeek, PCWorld, Macworld, The Saturday Evening Post, The Los Angeles Times and many other publications.