“AI still lacks what most 10-year-olds possess: ordinary common sense. We want to jump start that research to achieve major breakthroughs in the field.”
— Paul G. Allen
Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence
From an early age, Paul knew Artificial Intelligence (AI) held great potential. After reading Isaac Asimov’s novel, I, Robot, he knew machines taking over the world was unlikely, but he believed developing AI with human values was essential to advance the science. “Early in AI research, there was a great deal of focus on common sense, but that work stalled,” he said. “AI still lacks what most 10-year-olds possess: ordinary common sense. We want to jump start that research to achieve major breakthroughs in the field.”
Inspired by the successful model the other Allen Institutes employed, in 2014 the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) was founded to conduct high-impact AI research and engineering in service of the common good. Headquartered on the shores of Seattle’s Lake Union, the Institute employs a large team of the world’s best scientific and engineering talent in the field of AI. It attracts individuals of varied interests and backgrounds from around the globe and prides itself on diversity, collaboration, and its results-oriented approach to tackling complex AI challenges.
In the years since it was founded, AI2 has undertaken several ambitious projects to drive fundamental advances in AI. Its Aristo project is working to design a system that can read, learn, and reason. And its MOSAIC project is focused on defining and building common-sense knowledge and reasoning for AI systems. AI2’s computer vision research group, PRIOR, is driving breakthroughs in several areas including embodied AI through its open-source AI2-THOR platform. And the AllenNLP project is developing state-of-the-art, natural language processing models and making them available to the wider community. AI2 is changing the way researchers engage with literature through its free AI-powered research tool, Semantic Scholar. It’s also helping entrepreneurs create AI-first startups through world-leading AI research, support, and funding in the AI2 Incubator.
In 2021, AI2 expanded to include a number of teams and conservation technology initiatives incubated at Vulcan including EarthRanger, Skylight, several machine learning projects, and a team of climate scientists. With additional AI integration and the ability to build on cutting-edge developments that are the hallmark of AI2, these projects will continue to advance Paul’s vision of technology solutions by addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems.
These AI accomplishments, like those achieved by experts in the other three institutes, are further validation of Paul’s belief in the positive impact scientists can have on people and the planet when our best minds are equipped, funded, and encouraged to push the boundaries of what’s possible.