Cogent Labs and University College London Partner in Long-term Joint Research Initiative
Modularity and composability:
one step closer to the human brain
Long-term Joint Research Set to Begin
Cogent Labs Inc. (“Cogent Labs”; Head Office: Shibuya, Tokyo; Representative Director: Jun Iinuma) and University College London (“UCL”; Location: UK; President & Provost: Professor Michael Arthur) have formed of a long-term research partnership aimed at the next-generation of AI, with research activities set to begin.
The human brain is capable of solving a wide range of very different types of tasks. With current AI systems on the other hand, it is necessary to create and train a separate neural network for each type of specialist task. This presents a major obstacle in the advancement and adoption of AI.
One striking feature of human reasoning capabilities is how we can effortlessly learn to decompose sophisticated varying problems into sequences of simpler tasks that can be solved readily. Neural networks currently cannot do that, they are monolithic and have to be trained for a specialized task.
The ambitious goal of our collaboration with UCL is to understand how to design neural networks in such a way that modular solutions to complex problems naturally emerge. The first in a series of results from the joint research effort is expected to be announced in 2019.
■Accelerating the move towards more general AI
The development of this technology could make it easier to re-purpose a single neural architecture to solve different problems. There are many tasks for example which require perception but call for different actions. An autonomous vehicle needs to detect pedestrians, but the next action is to navigate and avoid them. Security cameras also detect people walking by, but would be expected to follow with very different actions. The modular ML approach is a research area that would allow similar neural architectures to be used in both these cases, but taking different actions depending on the context. Modularity will greatly increase generality of AI systems and make them considerably more powerful, easier to train and deploy.
■A unique type of relationship between Industry and Academia
In the past, joint research between industry and academia was essentially conducted on a individual project basis, whereby a company would provide funding and expect specific results owning all resulting IP. However, in the rapidly evolving field of AI one-off research projects are quickly superseded by new research and both UCL and CL believe this method is no longer suitable.
Cogent Labs (CL) and UCL will pursue a unique and novel joint research approach where AI research will be long term and ongoing, fully collaborative with researchers from both institutions working together, with all results being made public and shared with the wider AI community and society at large.
The UCL researchers bring extensive AI expertise and deep relationships with the international academic community while CL, in addition to its research team, will contribute with its strong machine learning team lead by David Cournapeau, the original author of the globally used machine learning library SciKit Learn. CL will provide unique datasets accumulated through its ongoing business with Japanese clients allowing the researchers to apply their work to real world business problems.
■Research at the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence
UCL and Cogent Labs joint research will be conducted via the new UCL Centre for Artificial intelligence, led by its Director, Professor David Barber. The Centre will be formally launched in early 2019, and will encompass ALL of UCL’s Computer Science AI activities in one space for the first time. Comprising over 150 AI researchers with a shared interest in addressing fundamental AI challenges, the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence’s vision is to create new technologies and advise on their application and impact in science, industry and society. The new Centre for AI provides an exciting and novel opportunity to engage in a wide range of projects that span across traditional AI boundaries. This collaboration with Cogent Labs will foster knowledge exchange across the breadth of expertise within UCL’s Centre for AI.
■Comments from Professor David Barber, UCL
The partnership with Cogent is hugely exciting. Whilst AI has made substantial progress, current machines still have a limited understanding of us and the world around them. Improving the ability of AI machines to be useful for us requires tackling the bigger issues, such as how to allow machines access to knowledge that we have and how to train machines based on only a limited amount of interaction. Our partnership with Cogent will support our efforts to address such longer term challenges and we’re honored that Cogent have chosen UCL based on our research excellence in AI. As AI begins to play an increasing role, it’s important that we develop AI openly for the benefit of science and society, shaping a brighter future for all. Cogent is an ideal partner with whom to share that vision.
Director of the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence
■Comments from the Science and Technology Department of the British Embassy
The British Embassy Tokyo is delighted that Cogent Labs and UCL have decided to form a research partnership on artificial intelligence. The UK and Japan have a long history of partnering in research that delivers significant benefits for businesses, researchers and both our countries.
Head of Section and First Secretary for Science and Innovation
About University College London
UCL was founded in 1826. We were the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world’s top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has over 39,000 students from 150 countries and over 12,500 staff. Our annual income is more than £1 billion.
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About Cogent Labs, Inc.
Head office: TENOHA LAB, 20-23 Daikanyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Established: April 2014
Representatives: Representative Directors Jun Iinuma, Eric Whiteway
Capital: 1.472 billion yen (including capital reserves)
Business content: Research and development of state-of-art artificial intelligence and provision of related solution services
For inquiries, please contact:
Cogent Labs Inc.