Amazon partners with UCLA on science hub focused on AI and its social impact


Amazon’s Pietro Perona and Prem Natarajan join UCLA’s Leonard Kleinrock, Jayathi Murthy, Andrea Ghez, Jens Palsberg and Stefano Soatto on an Amazon Science Day at the UCLA launch event. (Photo UCLA)

Amazon and UCLA are launching a research hub that will draw on industrial and academic research to address social issues raised by the rapid rise of artificial intelligence.

The Science Hub for Humanity and Artificial Intelligence will be based at UCLA Samueli School of Engineering in Los Angeles, with Amazon providing $ 1 million in funding for the first year of the partnership. Both parties can renew the agreement for up to four more years.

In a press release, UCLA said professors on its campus will work with AI specialists from Amazon to identify and resolve research challenges in the field of artificial intelligence, with special attention to issues such as algorithmic bias, fairness, accountability and responsible AI. The collaboration will support doctoral scholarships and research projects as well as community outreach programs.

“We are delighted to be working with Amazon in this effort to examine the future of artificial intelligence and its implications for our world,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. “The Science Center for Humanity and Artificial Intelligence will advance AI-related discoveries and deepen our understanding of a discipline that is revolutionizing the way we use and understand modern technology. “

The hub will support AI research under the leadership of an advisory group led by UCLA computer science professor Jens Palsberg. The group, which includes representatives from Amazon and UCLA, will develop, solicit and select research proposals – and review applications for scholarship recipients.

Funding from the hub will support annual scholarships of $ 70,000 each for students in the second, third or fourth year of a UCLA doctoral engineering program. Fellows will also be invited to participate in paid summer internships at Amazon.

“The hub is designed to further the educational mission of the university, so that it can better train the diverse talents needed to support the AI ​​revolution in the years to come, in a way that benefits all sectors. of the company, ”said Stefano Soatto, vice president of applied science for Amazon Web Services AI. Soatto, who is currently on leave from his position as professor of computer science at UCLA, has been instrumental in helping Amazon and the university establish the science hub.

UCLA today hosted an “Amazon Science Day” event to celebrate the unveiling of the hub and the 52nd anniversary of the birth of the Internet. On October 29, 1969, UCLA computer scientist Leonard Kleinrock directed the transmission of the first Internet message from his lab to the Stanford Research Institute. (The network crashed after the Kleinrock team sent the first two characters: the “LO” in LOGIN.)

The Science Hub is the latest example of Amazon’s collaboration with universities across the country to advance research in AI and other fields. In 2016, for example, Amazon donated $ 10 million to the University of Washington to support the expansion of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering. And again this week, Amazon Web Services highlighted the beginnings of its quantum computing research center on the Caltech campus.

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