TU Wien Informatics

20 Years

Cluster of Excellence awarded for Bilateral AI!

  • 2024-05-06
  • FWF
  • Machine Learning
  • AI

Excellence in research is one of our hallmarks, so we are happy to announce that “Bilateral AI” (BILAI) has been awarded a Cluster of Excellence!

Cluster of Excellence awarded for Bilateral AI!
Picture: tomertu / stock.adobe.com

Bilateral Artificial Intelligence Cluster of Excellence

Excellence in research is one of our hallmarks, and as one of the leading European universities in the field of informatics, we are happy to announce that the project “Bilateral Artificial Intelligence” (BILAI) has been awarded a Cluster of Excellence (CoE) by Austria’s Science Fund (FWF)! The goal? To develop a Broad Artificial Intelligence (AI) that brings two existing approaches in the field of AI together: symbolic AI and sub-symbolic AI.

The Best of Both Worlds

But what exactly is Broad AI? As opposed to Narrow AI, which is characterized by task specific skills, Broad AI aims at solving a wide array of problems, rather than being limited to a single task or domain. By combining sub-symbolic AI (machine learning, ML) with symbolic AI (knowledge representation and reasoning, KRR), Bilateral AI provides the means to develop the foundations of a new level of AI with broader capabilities for skill acquisition and problem-solving: Broad AI. While symbolic AI works with clearly defined logical rules, sub-symbolic AI (such as ChatGPT) is based on training a machine with the help of large datasets to create intelligent behavior.

Harnessing the full potential of both symbolic and sub-symbolic approaches can open new avenues for AI that are better at solving new problems, adapting to a wide variety of environments, having better reasoning skills, and being more efficient in terms of both computation and data use. These key features allow for a vast range of use cases for Broad AI, starting with drug development and medicine, over planning and scheduling, to autonomous traffic management and recommendation systems. With fairness, transparency, and explainability as top priorities, developing Broad AI is also essential for addressing ethical concerns and ensuring a positive impact on our society.

Paving the way for this innovative approach are Thomas Eiter, Head of the Research Unit Knowledge-Based Systems, and Agata Ciabattoni, Head of the Research Unit Theory and Logic, who will provide their expertise on symbolic AI and Logics for AI within BILAI. Thomas Eiter is a leading expert in knowledge representation and reasoning (KRR), logic programming, and declarative problem-solving and will serve as the Deputy Director of Research as well as the Head of the Training Unit on the project. Agata Ciabattoni is a mathematical logician known for her work on non-classical logics and their applications and will serve on the Board of Directors of BILAI. Together with 9 key researchers across 5 different Research Units, BILAI pushes the boundaries of AI research while also providing an excellent opportunity for junior researchers and young scientists with its training unit and PhD program. Top scientists and researchers involved in the project are Robert Ganian, Georg Gottlob, Thomas Lukasiewicz, Silvia Miksch, Nysret Musliu, Magdalena Ortiz, Emmanuel Sallinger, Stefan Szeider and Stefan Woltran. Awarding this Cluster of Excellence also highlights and further strengthens the work of the Center for AI and Machine Learning (CAIML), which focuses on research activities in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning both in their foundations and applications, and of the Vienna Center for Logic and Algorithms (VCLA), which is dedicated to promote international research in Logic and Algorithms, as well as the training and promotion of young scientists.

BILAI unites leading experts in the field of AI under the direction of Johannes Kepler University Linz and will be funded by the FWF with 19.8 million Euros, together with a contribution of 13.2 million Euros of all other project partners. This adds up to a total of over 33 million Euros, which makes it one of Austria’s highest-funded research projects to date. Partners for the project include WU Wien, TU Graz, University of Klagenfurt as well as the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA). BILAI is set to run for at least 5 years, with the possibility of extending the project for up to ten years following a positive evaluation.

Academic Bios

Thomas Eiter is Head of the Institute for Logic and Computation and of the Research Unit Knowledge-Based Systems, where he has been a Professor since 1998. Eiter has been working in different fields of Computer Science and AI, with a focus on knowledge representation and reasoning. He is a fellow of the ACM, of the European Association for Artificial Intelligence (EurAI), and of the Asia-Pacific Artificial Intelligence Association (AAIA), as well as member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and of Academia Europea (London). Eiter has been serving on various boards, steering bodies, and conference committees throughout his career. He is the current president of the Association for Logic Programming and past president of KR Inc.

Agata Ciabattoni is a Full Professor at the TU Wien Informatics and the Head of the Research Unit Theory and Logic. She is the co-chair of the Vienna Center for Logic and Algorithms (VCLA), a member of the council of the Association of Symbolic Logic, co-chair of the Steering Committee (SC) of the Society of Deontic Logic and Normative Systems, and a member of a number of SC, including Women in Logic, a forum that supports women working on logic-related topics. In 2011 she received the START prize, the highest Austrian award for early career researchers, for her project Non classical proofs: Theory, Applications and Tools. Agata Ciabattoni works on logics different from classical logic: theory, applications and tools. Her running research projects include the WWTF project “TAIGER: Training and Guiding AI Agents with Ethical Rules” (with Ezio Bartocci and Thomas Eiter), and the FWF project (Weave with Germany and Luxemburg) “Logical methods for Deontic Explanations” (with Leon van der Torre and Christian Strasser)

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