ELLIS does not want to be dependent on the USA and China16. December 2019
ELLIS does not want to be dependent on the USA and China
The European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) is launching a project to develop research facilities on the societal impact of AI. Today, the non-profit organisation announced 17 cities in 10 European countries and Israel that it has decided to participate in the project.
Each selected site – including Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tel Aviv and Zurich – will start with around half a dozen AI researchers and sustainable funding of at least €1.5 million ($1.66 million) per year for the next five years. In an industry known for its aggressive hiring of top talent, the grant will offer researchers salaries comparable to those of technology giants. The plants will start operation in spring 2020.
“One step towards realizing this vision of having these institutes is the creation of these units that are a little like the seed. If the units are successful, they are planned to grow and eventually become an institute,” AI researcher and ELLIS board member Nuria Oliver told VentureBeat in an interview at the Neuronal Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) conference in Vancouver, Canada.
NeurIPS in Montreal last year brought together the best machine learning minds in Europe. Now they hope that ELLIS will become a leading open science organisation with laboratories around the world. ELLIS was inspired by the initiative of the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR).
At this year’s NeurIPS in Vancouver, ELLIS also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the CIFAR Machine Learning Program, co-responsible by Turing Prize winners and Deep Learning pioneers Yann LeCun and Yoshua Bengio. The organizations are planning joint activities, such as the establishment of summer schools and workshops and streamlining the review processes for scholarship programs and exchange visits between Canada and Europe. The aim is to attract and retain the best European AI talent.
The concern that Europe is falling behind the United States and China in AI development was another motivation for ELLIS, Nuria Oliver said. Elsevier finds, for example, that Europe writes more AI research than any other region in the world, but the work of EU researchers is not quoted as highly as that of contributors elsewhere in the world.
“The reality is that Europe’s influence in research is lagging behind China and the US,” Oliver said.
Apart from the need to keep salaries competitive with companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft, ELLIS identified the teaching burden as a barrier to top scientists because instead of pushing their research, they have to teach every week. ELLIS also cited Europe’s rigid attitude of enabling scientists to interact with industry or start their own businesses as another obstacle.