12.10.2020 | 6 min read |
by Andrea Rácz
Kempelen Institute, Artificial Intelligence and Excellent Science Directly in HubHub
The first FTRNW Tuesday in the fall of the 2020 season brought a very interesting topic, as well as interesting guests. After months of preparations, the emerging Kempelen Institute of Intelligent Technologies (KInIT) took on a formal form, thanks to private companies it received funding to launch its activities and, thanks to support from HubHub, a place to work for professionals in the tallest Nivy Tower building in Bratislava. The current director of the institute prof. Mária Bieliková and her deputy doc. Marián Šimko talked about artificial intelligence, its benefits and risks, the plans of the Kempelen Institute and other topics in an online interview.
Artificial Intelligence as an Atomic Weapon
Opinions on artificial intelligence differ. While some see it as a potential danger, others promote its further development. However, everything depends on how humanity treats it, because according to prof. Bieliková artificial intelligence is neutral. Nuclear energy can also serve us and is currently being used for peaceful purposes around the world. Thanks to artificial intelligence and computers, today we can streamline a number of processes that we were unable to streamline ten years ago. Finding the right image among millions of others, searching a database with millions of records in seconds, but also filtering email spam are operations that we can perform thanks to artificial intelligence. It is the responsibility of people how we approach this technology.
Institutes Similar to the Kempelen Institute
Although the newly established Kempelen Institute is the first institute of its kind in Slovakia (and in the Czech Republic), it is not the only one in Europe or in the world. Similar organizations with different focus were established in the 40s and 50s of the last century. Today, they even have a very strong connection with the state. A well-known institute is the German DFKI with a focus on artificial intelligence research. There are several such institutes in Europe, but our results and competitiveness vis-à-vis the USA, China and other countries are far from sufficient. Slovakia as a country lags behind in many ways and the reason is not only insufficient funding, but also the outflow of skilled and young people abroad. Unsatisfactory conditions force young people to move to other countries and institutes that carry out science and research in their sectors.
Excellent Science as the Main Contribution of the Institute
Without carrying out basic research and subsequently applying this research into practice, we will never move forward in innovation and competitiveness with regard to the surrounding countries and regions. The aim of the Kempelen Institute is to bring excellent science to Slovakia, to educate experts who can solve complex problems, thanks to which Slovak science and research will get among the world’s players. KInIT plans to create conditions and a place for a new generation of experts who will stay at home and carry out science and research in Slovakia.
Operation, Financing and Topics of the Kempelen Institute
The Kempelen Institute is an officially functioning organization, which was established with the support of many Slovak companies. The staff of the institute will focus on research in artificial intelligence, informatics and information technology, machine learning, information security and software engineering. The aim is to address the topics of ethics in information technology as well. Without the support of Slovak companies such as ESET, Tatra banka, Softec, Innovatrics, Seesame, but also HubHub by HB Reavis, the implementation of the idea of creating such an institute would be much more complicated. For the operation and functioning of the institute, the team around prof. Bieliková wants to also receive money from public sources such as grant schemes and structural funds. Another source of money will be funds obtained from contracts for private companies and organizations.
HubHub and Kempelen Institute
HubHub also contributed to the idea of establishing the first institute of its kind in Slovakia. The employees of the Kempelen Institute are part of the HubHub community and use the premises of the latest coworking in the Nivy Tower building in Bratislava free of charge. Although prof. Bieliková says that this is a big experiment, because it is not customary for scientists to use coworking spaces, the whole team is ready to discover the benefits of such a workplace and thus bring enlightenment in this direction too. We believe that their scientific work and results will be a huge contribution to the Slovak innovation ecosystem.