TU Wien Informatics

20 Years

Georg Gottlob X Daniela Rus // 20th Birthday

  • By Sophie Wiesinger
  • 2024-05-29
  • Report
  • Machine Learning
  • AI

If you haven’t heard by now, then you’re really late to the party: TU Wien Informatics is 20 years old (and all grown up)!

Jubilee Lecture X Vienna Gödel Lecture 2024
Jubilee Lecture X Vienna Gödel Lecture 2024
Picture: Amélie Chapalain / TU Wien Informatics

We were there

As has been remarked elsewhere, it’s, of course, not as if computer science has only been around for 20 years, but it’s the fact that TU Wien Informatics has been a standalone faculty for 20 years. Although the foundation for our faculty was already laid back in 1815, it took until 2004 for TU Wien Informatics to become established as a standalone faculty. A lot has happened since then: our faculty has grown to over 5,500 students, 81 professors, and 356 academic staff members. What sets us apart from other institutions and faculties is not just excellence in our scientific endeavors, but that we also have a strong commitment to society. With developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) moving at an unprecedented speed, we believe that this commitment is now more important than ever as we are faced with unique challenges and opportunities that AI-powered technologies bring with them.

To highlight all our achievements and to have a proper (academic) party, a Jubilee Lecture was held together with this year’s Vienna Gödel Lecture on Monday, May 27th.

The whole day was not, however, only centered around celebrating that we’re not a teenager anymore: our celebrations brought some highly renowned scientists to our lecture halls. In his Jubilee Lecture, computer scientist and Professorial Fellow at St John’s College (Oxford) Georg Gottlob reminisced about his beginnings in computer science at TU Wien, going back almost 50 years. From long (and often unintelligible) lecture notes provided by his own professors that sparked passion and interest in learning over the beginnings of computer labs at the university, he’s been there through pretty much all of it. Georg Gottlob looked back at the very roots of computer science in Austria, and he also gave an outlook on what computer scientists are up to right at this very moment. Dubbed a Psychoanalysis of ChatGPT (a little homage to Vienna), Georg Gottlob gave insights into the opportunities and challenges that Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT bring with them.

Another highlight of this extraordinary day was, of course, to have Daniela Rus, Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT as a speaker for this year’s Gödel lecture. Picking up where Georg Gottlob left off, Daniela Rus shared her insights about what’s next for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics in her keynote on promises and challenges of Physical AI. Rus talked about recent developments in Machine Learning (ML) and Robotics, focusing on how machines think, how they are designed, and how they learn, all the while stressing the importance of developing scalable, trustworthy, and deployable reasoning AI engines. The future that Daniela Rus envisions is one where robots powered by AI will be able to solve complex tasks and be fully integrated into the physical world. The possible range of appliances for the intersection of Robotics and AI is sheer endless: whether it’s improving autonomous driving, support within the healthcare system, or everyday tasks like picking up the garbage (we all know we’ve had a conversation or two about who gets to take it out). Daniela Rus gave a bright and thoughtful outlook on the possibilities and challenges of Physical AI, sharing her vision of a future in which robots become so integrated in the fabric of our lives that they will become as common as smartphones are today.

Our thanks go out to everyone who attended the event and especially to the Rector of TU Wien Jens Schneider and our Dean Gerti Kappel for their welcome addresses, as well as to hosts Stefan Szeider and Jiehua Chen. We also want to give our special thanks to Georg Gottlob, who captured his audience with Half a Century of Computer Science Love Story, and to Daniela Rus for her captivating and insightful lecture on all the possible futures that AI and Robotics hold in store for us.

Watch the full Vienna Gödel Lecture with Daniela Rus:

Vienna Gödel Lecture 2024 with Daniela Rus
Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yK44lULQF2Q

Georg Gottlob was also a keynote speaker at this year’s LogicLounge, hosted by the Vienna Center for Logic and Algorithms (VCLA), where talked about Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Ignorance. Read more in our item covering his talk at the LogicLounge 2024!

About Georg Gottlob

Georg Gottlob earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from TU Wien in 1981. Following academic appointments in Milan, Genoa, and Stanford, he was named a full professor of Informatics at TU Wien in 1988. In 2006, he accepted a position at Oxford University while maintaining strong ties to TU Wien as an Adjunct Professor in Logic and Computation and Information System Engineering. Between 2006 and 2011, he served as the Chair of Computing Science at Oxford University and subsequently assumed the Chair of Informatics in January 2012. Currently, Georg is a Professorial Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford, and holds a chaired professorship at the University of Calabria in Italy.

An esteemed scholar, Georg has contributed over 250 scientific articles to computational logic, database theory, and artificial intelligence and authored a textbook on logic programming and databases. His work has earned him numerous accolades, including the Wittgenstein Award from the FWF, the ERC Advanced Investigators Grant, and the Ada Lovelace Medal from the British Computer Society. He is recognized as an ACM Fellow, an ECCAI Fellow, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a member of the Austrian, German, and European Academies of Sciences. In addition to his research contributions, Georg is actively involved in various advisory boards and serves on the editorial boards of several leading journals, including JCSS and CACM, demonstrating his commitment to advancing excellence in research.

About Daniela Rus

Daniela Rus is the Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL); and Deputy Dean of Research for Schwarzman College of Computing at MIT. Rus serves as Director of the Toyota-CSAIL Joint Research Center, whose focus is advancing AI research and its applications to intelligent vehicles. She is an MITRE senior visiting fellow, serves as a USA expert member for GPAI (Global Partnerships in AI), a member of the board of advisers for Scientific American, a member of the Defense Innovation Board, and several other boards of technical companies.

Rus is a Class of 2002 MacArthur Fellow, a fellow of ACM, AAAI, and IEEE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She received the 2017 Engelberger Robotics Award from the Robotics Industries Association. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University.

About Vienna Gödel Lectures

Named after the famous Austrian-American logician, mathematician, and philosopher Kurt Gödel (1906-1978) and introduced in 2013, the annual Vienna Gödel Lectures bring world-class scientists to Vienna. The lecture series illustrates computer science’s fundamental and disruptive contribution to our information society, and it investigates how our discipline explains and shapes the world we live in—and thereby, our lives as such.

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