Paul G. Allen Foundation Names Cohort of Distinguished Investigators

The Seattle-based Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has announced a fourth round of grants totaling $5.7 million through its Allen Distinguished Investigators program.

The three-year grants will support research in one of three fundamental areas in the field of artificial intelligence: machine reading, diagram interpretation and reasoning, or spatial and temporal reasoning.

This year's cohort of ADI recipients includes Devi Parikh (Virginia Tech), who will focus on simplifying the visual world for machines by leveraging abstract scenes to "teach" them common sense; Maneesh Agrawala (University of California, Berkeley) and Jeffrey Heer (University of Washington), who are developing computational models for interpreting graphic visualizations of data and diagrams; Sebastian Riedel (University College London), who will experiment with a new approach to how machines convert symbolic knowledge into vector form and approximate the behavior of logic through algebraic operations; Ali Farhadi and Hannaneh Hajishirzi (University of Washington), who hope to teach computers to interpret diagrams the same way children are taught to do in school; and Luke Zettlemoyer (University of Washington), who will investigate models that enable a machine to automatically read any text book, extract all the knowledge it contains, and use that information to pass a college-level exam on the subject matter.

"The Allen Distinguished Investigator program has become a platform for scientists and researchers to push the boundaries on the conventional and test the limits of how we think about our existence and the world as we know it," said Dune Ives, senior director of Vulcan Philanthropy and co-manager of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. "We are only beginning to grasp how deep intelligence works. We hope these grants serve as a valuable catalyst for one day making artificial intelligence a reality."