Paul G. Allen Commits $125 Million for AI Research

Paul G. Allen Commits $125 Million for AI Research

Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen has announced a commitment of $125 million over three years in support of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) and Project Alexandria, a new research initiative focused on common sense artificial intelligence.

The commitment will fund existing projects at the institute, which Allen founded in 2014, as well as the new project, which will work to integrate knowledge developed in machine reading and reasoning through AI2's Project Aristo, natural language knowledge developed through its Project Euclid, and computer vision expertise developed through its Project Plato, creating a new unified knowledge source that can serve as a foundation for future AI systems.

"Early in AI research, there was a great deal of focus on common sense, but that work stalled," said Allen. "AI still lacks what most ten-year-olds possess: ordinary common sense. We want to jump-start that research to achieve major breakthroughs in the field."

Over the next few years, Project Alexandria (named after the third century BCE library in Egypt) will focus on the development of standard metrics for the commonsense abilities of an AI system, novel crowdsourcing methods to acquire common sense knowledge from people at scale, and applications that use common sense to boost performance across a broad range of practical AI challenges, from machine reading to robotic vision.

"Common sense is the precondition for general intelligence; until we get there, we will be stuck with narrow AI that is rarely robust and never as flexible as human reasoners," said Gary Marcus, founder of Geometric Intelligence  and professor of psychology and neural science at New York University. "I am hugely excited about Project Alexandria. There's only been one serious large-scale effort to endow machines with common sense, and it was launched over three decades ago. The time is right for a fresh approach to the problem."

(Image credit: Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence)