- The new science lab’s focus is to research fair, transparent, and explainable Artificial Intelligence (AI)

- The Lablet aims at establishing a culture of sharing research results in the form of publications, open source code, and data, to facilitate reproducibility, transparency, and collaboration

- To build trust in AI and to serve the public, the science team’s aim is a steady interchange with science, politics and civil society

- AI research in the Lablet follows a curiosity-driven approach, which gives scientists full freedom of choice

Tübingen, November 28, 2019 – Amazon announced to establish a Lablet in Tübingen, Germany, a new kind of research center that is dedicated to the open research in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its applications to work on long-term challenges in AI. Starting in December 2019, researchers from various disciplines, including computer science, engineering and mathematics, will conduct fundamental research in the field of AI. Their particular interests are explainability, causality and research on AI that comprehends its environment. To foster scientific progress and reproducibility, the Lablet team will strive to share the research in the form of publications, open source code and data.

“By founding the Lablet, we are driving a paradigm shift. The research is curiosity-driven instead of aiming at incrementally improving products and applications. The freedom of research and above all the freedom to choose what to scientifically examine are only the first two steps towards an unbiased, fair and open AI,” said Bernhard Schoelkopf, scientific advisor of the Tübingen Lablet and director at Max Planck Institute of Intelligent Systems. “Another important step is a steady interchange with science, politics and civil society. We are convinced that AI should serve the public. To achieve this, we must build trust in AI – and we can only succeed if we make AI as transparent and understandable as possible.” Amazon plans to establish more Lablets to conduct fundamental research in AI worldwide.

Focus on exchange with scientific and local communities

Research in Artificial Intelligence in the Tübingen Lablet will focus on the following areas: causality and explainability, fairness, privacy, reinforcement learning, image processing and vision, and reinforcement learning. The choice of location is also based on this substantive focus. As a globally renowned research location in Germany, Tübingen and the local Cyber Valley initiative are characterized by a lively and reflective debate culture. Amazon harnesses this potential to let both the scientific community and the public participate in the Lablet research. The research center welcomes an open dialogue and lively discussions with leaders from politics, science, business and society, for example via public events.

“Amazon prioritizes long-term results over short-term benefit, which is exactly what we need for curiosity-driven, long-term research,” said Yasser Jadidi, Operative Head of the Amazon Lablet in Tübingen. “With a mix of applied scientists, PhD students, software development engineers, interns and Amazon Scholars, we want to understand AI and make AI understand its environment. Our goal is to empower humans to question and explain data-based decisions, and to provide causal explanations for an algorithm’s behavior.” As part of its local commitment in Tübingen, Amazon has a close collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and the University of Tübingen. In the Lablet, this collaboration is open to scientists from other institutions.

New building for the Amazon research center

In 2017, Amazon announced to open a research center in Tübingen and to create jobs for 100 high-skilled employees. The company also joined the Cyber Valley initiative, which brings together international key players from science and industry to concentrate their research activities in the field of AI. The Tübingen site is the fourth Amazon Research and Development Center in Germany after Berlin, Dresden and Aachen. The new Lablet will be part of this Amazon Research Center in Tübingen.

Earlier this month, the city council of Tübingen approved the sale of land adjacent to the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems to a developer, who will construct a building by 2021. Amazon will lease this building to set it up as its new research center in Tübingen. The building was planned according to the requirements of the municipality as well as local Amazon research teams. It will also house a café, an event space and a co-working area, all of which will be accessible to the public to foster scientific exchange and discussion with local communities.

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