About the Centre

Scale of the Centre. The SFI Centre for Research Training in Artficial Intelligence was established in March 2019 with funding of over €14 million from Science Foundation Ireland and an additional €3.3 million from indusry and the academic partners. It is Ireland's national centre for PhD-level training in AI and will train more than 120 PhDs across four cohorts, with an intake of 30 students per annum for the next four years. The centre brings together five of Ireland's seven universities and a team of almost 60 supervisors across the country.

The press release associated with the formal Ministerial announcement of the centre is available. (Minister Humphreys and Minister Halligan announce investment of over €100 million in six new SFI Centres for Research Training 700 students to be trained in digital, data and ICT skills for the future.)

Context. Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a significant role in the world today. Its impact is transformational and it is disrupting society and industry alike. Over the last decade major advances have been achieved due to the availability of vast amounts of digital data, the availability of powerful computing architectures, and advances in AI techniques, such as machine learning. Over the last decade, we have seen major AI-enabled developments in autonomous vehicles, healthcare, home/service robots, education, cybersecurity, predictive policing, game playing, to name but a few. Fundamental scientific advances in automated reasoning, Boolean satisfiability, and complex problem-solving, have brought within reach a variety of intractable AI tasks that arise in scheduling, diagnosis, model-based reasoning, security, verification, and planning. Access to large, complex and semantic data, has led to advances in natural language processing, vision, and machine translation. The ethical issues raised by autonomous AI systems, the impact of bias, and lack of algorithmic and data transparency, are now major concerns in terms of the societal impact of AI. To be properly prepared for the AI-enabled world of today, students must be: exposed to a broad range of AI techniques; capable of viewing AI in the context of more complex software and hardware systems; capable of seeing the opportunities and challenges for the application of AI; able to design, implement, and test, an AI solution; and, cognisant of the ethical, societal, and economic, implications of AI.

The Objectives of the Centre. This centre aims to create an internationally connected and globally recognised centre of excellence for the training of postgraduate students and the up-skilling of industry-based staff in key technical topics in artificial intelligence. The initiative will provide training in areas related to ethics in artificial intelligence and data analytics, as well as challenges in fairness and transparency of advanced data-driven applications. The proposed Centre for Research Training (CRT) brings together supervisors working across the full spectrum of AI techniques from knowledge representation and reasoning, machine learning, data mining, computer vision, natural language processing, optimisation and decision-making, robotics, and autonomy. The centre will focus strongly on the development of AI solutions in domains such as smart buildings, mobility and transportation, autonomous vehicles, public service delivery, manufacturing, enterprise, cybersecurity, climate change and environment, agriculture, marine, food production, and natural resources.

Features of the Centre. This centre is a joint initiative between University College Cork, Dublin City University, National University of Ireland Galway, Trinity College Dublin, and the University of Limerick. We offer fully-funded PhD scholarships inclusive od fees, a monthly stipend, and a budget for travel and training. We will produce 120 PhD graduates in the field of artificial intelligence in a world-class cohort-based model, working closely with industry and international academic partners. Every student taking part in the programme will spend a number of internships with industry partners or at international partner laboratories.

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