Europe-wide leading researchers in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning have joined forces in the Ellis network. This has two goals: To establish top international research on these topics in Europe and to strengthen Europe economically in this field. This is to counterbalance the current dominance of US-American and Chinese AI initiatives. Over the next five years, the Saarbrücken computer scientists intend to focus on the scientific principles and security aspects of the new technologies. This includes the question of how artificial intelligence can make comprehensible decisions that meet even the highest security requirements.
"We have committed ourselves to the core objective of the ELLIS research network and want to investigate how artificial intelligence and machine learning will affect humanity in the future and how these developments can be reconciled with our social values. To this end, we have sought contact with industrial partners from the outset. We also want to train and network the next generation of researchers for this purpose," says Professor Bernt Schiele, Chairman of the newly established Ellis Unit SAM (Saarbrücken Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning). Part of the initiative is the desired mix of research teams in terms of scientific origin, gender, ethnicity and status in scientific careers. Despite its short life-span to date, the initiative already has the support of well-known European companies such as Audi, AVL, Bayer, Bosch, DeepMind, Greiner, Porsche and Siemens as well as US companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, NVIDIA and Qualcomm.
In September 2019, the first call for proposals for projects was published. After the usual peer review process, a total of 17 Ellis units were awarded the contract, one of which is in Saarbrücken with four participating institutes at and near the university campus. The six Saarland scientists whose application "SAM" was successful in the selection process are Mario Fritz (CISPA), Manuel Gomez-Rodriguez and Krishna Gummadi (Max Planck Institute for Software Systems), Bernt Schiele and Christian Theobalt (Max Planck Institute for Computer Science) and Isabel Valera (Saarland University).
With respect to the development dynamics of machine learning and artificial intelligence and the significance of this research area for the future, scientists from all over Europe have joined forces in the ELLIS initiative. The initiative is, so to speak, a grassroots movement that emanates and is supported directly by the scientific actors, i.e. it is not a nationally or EU initiated project. The urgency of this research task is confirmed by one of the leading scientists in the field of artificial intelligence, Geoffrey Hinton, Turing Prize winner and Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. He says: "Deep learning is at the heart of the amazing progress we are seeing in AI today. Companies like Google, Face-book, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are investing billions in the development of this technology. If Europe wants to keep up with North America and China, it must focus its huge investment in AI on deep learning."