TUT Kampusareena auditorium was full of people who have arrived to celebrate the the opening of AI Hub Tampere, the very first AI Hub in Finland. AI Hub Tampere is led by Associate Professor Heikki Huttunen from Signal Processing, and there is a multidisciplinary team behind it consisting of competences in signal processing, computing sciences, robotics and human-machine interaction. AI Hub Tampere is a new artificial intelligence research center for intelligent machines hosted by Tampere University and funded by public instruments. The center organizes workshops, helpdesk sessions, experimental piloting and other support for adopting artificial intelligence in local companies. It’s main principle is to make AI easy to reach, affordable and all our services are free of charge, neutral and equal for all. The center is part of nationwide network of AI centers that is currently being built.
We were happy to hear many interesting speeches about AI. First, Mika Grundström, Dean of Computing and Electrical Engineering Faculty, talked about the focus of the new AI Hub and emphasized that the hub will enable efficient networking with academic and industrial partners around AI, as well as the it will offer a platform for working with real AI cases coming from companies. Associate Professor and head of Signal Processing Lab Joni Kämäräinen gave an overview for the impressive department of Signal Processing in Tampere University and gave many interesting examples of their work. He also mentioned a nice future vision of the autonomous machine to clean snow on the university yard and greeting the rector when she is arriving in workplace 🙂 In addition, Joni stated the importance of successfull human-robot interaction and ethics on the AI solutions that are being developed. Professor Moncef Gabbouj showed a video from a streetview, where their algorithm was accurately able to recognize and label all the objects on the busy street: cars, people and so on. The second example was about the prediction of of heart’s behavior from the sensors being built on wristwatch. These examples demonstrated very concretely how effective the AI already is. Then, it was Heikki Huttunen’s turn to introduce the AI Hub Tampere and it’s purpose as well as way of working. Basically, AI Hub wants to make life of companies easier and help them to adopt AI. Heikki mentioned a very important point on intelligent machines that will be working with humans in the future – the machine should be perveived as a safe companion, not an enemy.
The second set of speeches consisted of four talks. Manu Setälä from Business Finland, Antti Siren from FIMA (Forum fro Intelligent Machines) and Niina Siipola from Business Tampere gave concrete examples of how AI can be utilized in intelligent machines and also in practical city challenges. The big machines need AI for conducting abstract tasks autonomously, for handling exceptions and making predictions, learning new skills, imitation of human behavior and thinking (making machines more human-like) and in co-operation between human workers & machines. On the other hand, the city challenges solved by AI can relate to, e.g. optimizing traffic light systems. Last but not least, Associate Professor Reza Ghabcheloo gave insight on what kind of human-machine interaction is needed in order to design safe and predictable autonomous machines. He also promised that in two years from now we would get our coffee served by their autonomous mobile robot. For that and many other purposes we need to make robots to understand human needs.
In the end of the event, there was a nice discussion on the multidisciplinary field of AI, and the challenge of getting out of own comfortable zones and research areas. There is definitely a need for collaboration, widening our knowledge and trying to understand each other who come from different fields. Together we can build fantastic, efficient, useful, usable and pleasurable services to benefit people in their complex world.
All the best for AI Hub Tampere <3
Written by Aino Ahtinen, the human-technology interaction specialist of AI Hub team
Ps. I was waiting for one word to be heard, which is so much related to human beings. The human-machine communication and interaction was mentioned for so many times. The that I wanted to hear is emotion, but it was not mentioned. Does this mean that we are currently only considering very pragmatic design questions when talking about AI and intelligent machines? If we really want to make machines to be more human-like, we cannot ignore the role of emotions, which basically tint all human decisions, behaviors and thoughts. Would there be some room for emotions on this field? Definitely in many areas. For example, the coffee serving robot would provide much more pleasurable experience if it detected some emotions and adjusted it’s behavior and service accordingly. Also, think about the washing machine, why cannot it be somehow emotional and emphathic for me – I need to work with it alot anyways and currently it feels very boring. Okay, maybe my service robot will do all those tasks in the future (but even that would need to be emotional in my opinion). Anyways, I think that the world would be much more interesting place if the machines would be intelligent and a bit more emotional <3 Stay tuned!