Introduced in 2019, by IBM, Brazil has launched the largest research facility, that focuses on artificial intelligence, through a collaboration between the private and public sector.
The Artificial Intelligence Center (C4AI) is supported by investments made by IBM along with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and the University of São Paulo (USP).
This AI centre — C4AI has been established to tackle five significant challenges that are related to health, the environment, the food production chain, the future of work and the development of NLP technologies in Portuguese. Along with this, it will also aid in projects relating to human wellbeing improvement as well as initiatives focused on diversity and inclusion.
The total investment in the AI centre will reach $20 million over the next ten years, which will be split among the investors. The USP will contribute $1 million to cover costs related to the physical set-up of the space, as well as over 70 lecturers and staff to run the centre. At the same time, IBM and São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) will co-run the centre, with a contribution of $500,000 each.
While launching the centre, the USP research dean Sylvio Canuto stated that the AI centre is expected to attract more attention to Brazil concerning AI research and the immense talent that is available in the country to support the AI-enabled future.
Agreeing to that, the scientific director of FAPESP, Luiz Eugênio Mello, stated that artificial intelligence offers “an infinite number of possibilities” in the areas of medical research during the COVID pandemic. Thus, the AI tools will be bringing in more effectiveness and time savings.
According to him, this partnership with IBM is like a milestone in a strategic area for the future.
Along with the primary location in the USP São Paulo campus, the AI centre will also have a second facility in the Institute of Mathematical and Computer Sciences (ICMC). It will also have three monitoring committees to discuss topics of common interest to Brazil around AI. This will further expand the debate around the five initial challenges, with a focus on industry, science and societal applications.
This news compliments Brazil’s last year’s announcement of creating a national AI strategy to respond to the worldwide race for leadership of AI and the requirement to discuss the future of work, education, tax, research and development as well as ethics as the application of related technologies becomes more pervasive. Alongside, Brazil adheres to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ’s human-centred AI Principles, which provide recommendations around areas such as transparency and explainability.
The Brazilian AI strategy will be focusing on six vertical themes — qualifications for a digital future; workforce; research, development, innovation and entrepreneurship; government application of AI; application in the productive sectors and public safety.