Schmidhuber named Director of KAUST AI Initiative

The newly appointed Director of the KAUST AI Initiative Professor Jürgen Schmidhuber.

​KAUST recently announced that Professor Jürgen Schmidhuber will join KAUST as director of the University's Artificial Intelligence Initiative. Schmidhuber is a renowned computer scientist who is most noted for his pioneering work in the field of artificial intelligence, deep learning, and artificial neural networks.

"I am delighted that we are able to recruit to KAUST a seminal leader in AI and machine learning in Dr. Schmidhuber," KAUST President Tony Chan, said. "This signifies the commitment that KAUST, as well as Saudi Arabia, is making to lead in and contribute to this very important field."

The future of AI research

Schmidhuber will join prominent AI faculty at KAUST, including Provost Lawrence Carin; Deputy Director of the AI Initiative Bernard Ghanem; founding Interim Director Wolfgang Heidrich; and many other highly cited faculty in computer science, applied mathematics, statistics, biological sciences and earth sciences. His focus initially will be to recruit new faculty members and top student prospects, develop educational programs and entrepreneurial activities, and engage with key public and private sector organizations.

KAUST expects AI to aid in the analysis of huge amounts of data coming from the Kingdom's gigaprojects, and the design of data gathering in these domains. AI is also expected to play a big role in the Kingdom's energy transitions in hydrogen, carbon capture, solar and wind. In both basic research and incorporation into its daily operations, KAUST is aligned with the vision of the Kingdom for a digital transformation powered by artificial intelligence.

In the media

About Jürgen Schmidhuber

Schmidhuber earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Technical University of Munich (TUM). He is a co-founder and the chief scientist of the company NNAISENSE, and was most recently scientific director at the Swiss AI Lab, IDSIA, and professor of AI at the University of Lugano. He is also the recipient of numerous awards, author of more than 350 peer-reviewed papers, a frequent keynote speaker, and an adviser to various governments on AI strategies.

His lab's deep learning neural networks have revolutionized machine learning and AI. By the mid-2010s, they were implemented on more than three billion devices, and used billions of times per day by customers of the world's most valuable public companies' products, e.g., for greatly improved speech recognition on all Android phones, greatly improved machine translation through Google Translate and Facebook (more than four billion translations per day), Apple's Siri and Quicktype on all iPhones, the answers of Amazon's Alexa, and numerous other applications.

In 2011, his team was the first to win official computer vision contests through deep neural nets with superhuman performance. In 2012, they had the first deep neural network to win a medical imaging contest (on cancer detection), attracting enormous interest from industry. His research group also established the fields of artificial curiosity through generative adversarial neural networks, linear transformers and networks that learn to program other networks (since 1991), and mathematically rigorous universal AI and recursive self-improvement in meta-learning machines that learn to learn (since 1987).