Their role is to act as spokespersons for the new Hessian Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI Centre Hesse): Prof. Dr.-Ing. Mira Mezini and Prof. Dr. Kristian Kersting, both from the Department of Computer Science at TU Darmstadt, define the objectives and the special driving forces behind the centre.
Numerous AI professorships are currently being established across Germany. What is different about the AI Centre?
Kristian Kersting: We are not just establishing new professorships at the participating universities and it is also not just a centre. It is a centre with a future-oriented and internationally competitive research profile and a clear research agenda. Our key research objective is to establish the third wave of AI – novel AI systems that have human-like communication and thinking skills and which can identify new situations and independently adapt to them.
This requires a three-pronged approach based on AI algorithms, AI systems and synergy effects between natural and artificial intelligence. This visionary three-pronged approach is embedded into a high performance computing infrastructure that was specially designed for modern AI.
Mira Mezini: The centre will carry out research into the algorithmic foundations for novel artificial intelligence that is developed in harmony with findings on natural intelligence. In addition, our research will re-evaluate basic problems and methods in computer science – not only with the aim of seamlessly integrating and interactively designing machine learning, thought and “common sense” but also with the goal of automating these processes as far as possible.
This could enable software developers who are not AI experts to create robust, secure and efficient AI systems. The aim is, in other words, to democratise the field of AI.
Alongside cutting-edge research, what other objectives are being pursued at the AI Centre in Hesse?
Kersting: The centre will not only push forward cutting-edge research, but also promote the applications of AI. To do this, we aim to create an innovation ecosystem at the AI Centre in close cooperation with industry, non-university research facilities and social groups.
KI researchers and practitioners will be able to come together and carry out AI research , develop responsible and human-centred AI systems and transfer the results.
Mezini: This type of ecosystem will provide the ideal conditions for creating start-ups, allowing companies to benefit from AI research and identifying applications that push forward the research and promote young talents in the field of AI, as well as attracting investors from around the world.
Why is the main site for the AI Centre Hesse based at TU Darmstadt?
Mezini: TU Darmstadt already has internationally renowned expertise in the area of AI by now which covers a broad spectrum of fields – from AI systems through to computational cognitive sciences. However, we are not only strong in core AI. TU Darmstadt is also extremely well positioned in the area of interdisciplinary research to develop specific AI systems for other disciplines such as the material sciences or mechanical engineering.
In a workshop held across TU Darmstadt, we have already identified various different starting points for joint interdisciplinary AI research. In addition, we have established structures for transferring the research into practice, such as the Competence Centre for Medium-Sized Enterprises 4.0 (Mittelstand 4.0) or the Competence Centre for Work and Artificial Intelligence (kompAKI), which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Furthermore, the centre can benefit from the long-standing cooperation between philosophy and computer sciences, the Competence Centre for Responsible Digitalisation that is also based in Darmstadt and our strong research into cybersecurity and the National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity ATHENE so that we can develop responsible artificial intelligence.