PROFESSOR SIMON LUCEY

DIRECTOR, AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE FOR MACHINE LEARNING (AIML), THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE

THOUGHT

Leader

AN INNOVATOR OF INDUSTRY
“IN 2020 MY FAMILY AND I DECIDED TO MAKE AUSTRALIA OUR HOME AFTER MORE THAN 13 YEARS IN THE UNITED STATES. ONE CITY TICKED ALL THE BOXES.” – PROFESSOR SIMON LUCEY

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Not only does Adelaide offer a great lifestyle and work-life balance for families, but in my field—artificial intelligence (AI)— the Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML) helps position the city as a global leader in research and innovation excellence.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting many of the leading AI institutes across the world. What sets AIML apart is that it was built for innovation from the start; augmenting the University of Adelaide’s excellent AI research is an expert engineering team that works directly with industry clients to help them tap into the immense commercial benefits that machine learning technology brings.

From small tech start-ups to huge multinationals, companies are drawn to Adelaide because of our specialist AI skills; and Adelaide’s Lot Fourteen innovation district plays a pivotal role in bringing them here. To me, innovation means looking at the world with a different perspective and solving problems in ways you haven’t thought of or experienced before. While innovation requires the industry’s top minds, you also need hard problems. It’s the intersection of the two that makes Lot Fourteen special. It’s about having the right people but also having the ability for companies to access that talent and give them the right challenges to solve.

It’d be hard to do what we do outside of Adelaide and Lot Fourteen. I’ve never visited a place that’s had such strong ties between its university sector and its state government. The government knows who we are, understands the value of our work, and sees us as partners. We view them the same way.

We’re only at the beginning of AI as we know it, and in a lot of ways, it reminds me of the invention of a piece of technology from further back in history. When the telegraph was invented in the mid-1800s, people focused on how to make money from it without getting a handle on the fundamentals of how the technology worked.

There’s now a rapid surge in commercial and research activity in AI globally and companies that view it only as a commodity are being left behind. But those that recognise AI as a science that requires ongoing investment are the ones futureproofing themselves.

Things move fast in the AI industry, and it’s an exciting time to be at the heart of it.

Simon Lucey is the director of the Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML) and a professor in the School of Computer and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

Prior to joining AIML in 2020, Professor Lucey was an associate research professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh, Pa. His research interests span computer vision, machine learning, and robotics. He draws inspiration from AI researchers of the past to help unlock mathematical and computational models that underlie the process of visual perception.

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