Amazon and Johns Hopkins announce new AI institute
The JHU + Amazon Initiative for Interactive AI (AI2AI) will be housed in the Whiting School of Engineering.
Amazon and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) today announced the creation of the JHU + Amazon Initiative for Interactive AI (AI2AI).
The Amazon-JHU collaboration will focus on driving ground-breaking AI advances with an emphasis on machine learning, computer vision, natural language understanding, and speech processing. Sanjeev Khudanpur, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will serve as the founding director of the initiative.
Amazon's sponsorship of AI2AI, which will be housed in JHU’s Whiting School of Engineering, underscores its commitment to partnering with academia to address the most complex challenges in Al, democratizing access to the benefits of Al innovations, and broadening participation in research from diverse, interdisciplinary scholars, and other innovators.
“Hopkins is already renowned for its pioneering work in these areas of AI, and working with Amazon researchers will accelerate the timetable for the next big strides. I often compare humans and AI to Luke Skywalker and R2D2 in Star Wars: They’re able to accomplish amazing feats in a tiny X-wing fighter because they interact effectively to align their complementary strengths. I am very excited at the prospect of the Hopkins AI community coming together under the auspices of this initiative, and charting the future of transformational, interactive AI together with Amazon researchers,” Khudanpur said.
Amazon funding will support a broad range of activities, including:
- Fellowships awarded annually to PhD students enrolled in the Whiting School of Engineering;
- Collaborative research projects led by JHU faculty in collaboration with post-doctoral researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, and research staff;
- Collaborative research events and activities that accelerate Al research and provide opportunities for interested parties in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C region to learn more about the latest findings and engage with experts through public lectures, workshops, competitions, and other research events.
“This initiative brings together the top talent at Amazon and Johns Hopkins in a joint mission to drive groundbreaking advances in interactive and multimodal AI,” said Prem Natarajan, Alexa AI vice president of natural understanding. “These advances will power the next generation of interactive AI experiences across a wide variety of domains — from home productivity to entertainment to health.”
The two organizations have collaborated in the past, with four Johns Hopkins faculty members joining Amazon as part of its Scholars program: Ozge Sahin, a professor of operations management and business analytics at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, in 2019; Gregory Hager, Mandell Bellmore Professor of Computer Science; René Vidal, Herschel Seder Professor of Biomedical Engineering and director of the Mathematical Institute for Data Science; and Marin Kobilarov, associate professor of mechanical engineering, in 2020.
In 2020 Amazon announced plans to located its HQ2 in nearby Arlington, Virginia. Amazon’s more than $2.5 billion investment in HQ2 and the surrounding area will result in 25,000 jobs created in the next decade, and thousands of indirect jobs across the entire region.
AI research at JHU
The new initiative will build on Hopkins Engineering’s existing strengths in the areas of machine learning, computer vision, natural language understanding, and speech processing. Its Mathematical Institute for Data Science (MINDS) conducts cutting-edge research on the mathematical, statistical, and computational foundations of machine learning and computer vision. The Center for Imaging Science (CIS) and the Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics (LCSR) conduct fundamental and applied research in nearly every area of basic and applied computer vision.
“We are very excited to work with Amazon in this new initiative," said Ed Schlesinger, Benjamin T. Rome Dean of the Whiting School of Engineering. "We value the challenges that they bring us and the life-changing potential of the solutions we will create together, and look forward to strengthening our work together over the coming years.”