MBZUAI and IBM to open AI research centre in Abu Dhabi

The AI Centre of Excellence will be located at the university's Masdar City campus

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Abu Dhabi's artificial intelligence university is teaming up with US technology company IBM to open a research centre at its Masdar City campus to develop products.

The AI Centre of Excellence will bring together students and faculties from the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) and IBM researchers to develop natural language processing tools in Arabic, as well as AI applications that address challenges in climate and health care.

“The partnership will strengthen MBZUA’s capacity to make practical contributions to the country’s sustainable economic development,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and chairman of MBZUAI, adding that it was an important aspect of developing highly skilled talent in skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The university has a unique opportunity to be a regional leader in the field of AI, as the only graduate-level university in the world singularly focused on developing AI tools.

With more than 100 graduate degree programmes in AI globally, the technology’s development and education centres are largely concentrated in North America, China and the UK.

Since opening its doors to students more than two years ago, MBZUAI has worked to develop a curriculum and programmes that support academic research to contribute to tackling real-world challenges and with the potential to become commercial products.

“IBM has a long history of technological innovation, and we look forward to joining their latest efforts in our region and together advance AI technology and commercialisation for mutual good,” said Prof Eric Xing, MBZUAI president.

IBM has signed a preliminary agreement to give MBZUAI students and faculties access to software, course materials and cloud accounts for teaching, learning and non-commercial research.

In addition, through the IBM Skills Academy programme, MBZUAI will have access to lectures, labs, industry use cases and design-thinking sessions.

Earlier this month, IBM chief executive Arvind Krishna said the global market for AI is about to reach a “tipping point” in realising productivity gains from the technology, citing the company's 2022 Global AI Adoption Index.

The survey found that about two thirds of companies are using AI, up four points compared to 2021, and about a third of employees reported that they were “saving time” with automation tools.

Mr Krishna predicted “you kind of reach a tipping point around 50 per cent. Then it tips over to 90 per cent very quickly. This means we're just before this tipping point, and that is what unlocks all of this productivity”.

A decade ago, IBM introduced the power of AI to a mainstream audience with Watson. The computer system made its debut on the popular American quiz show Jeopardy! and beat the best player in the show's history, Ken Jennings.

The New York-based company is a global leader in AI development, with clients in more than 175 countries and about 3,000 government and corporate entities in sectors such as financial services, telecoms and health care using IBM's AI tools.

Updated: May 27, 2022, 7:22 AM
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