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A new department has been established at the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics of the Czech Technical University (CIIRC CTU), which aims to advance research in the field of artificial intelligence. The institute has long been involved in artificial intelligence, machine, deep or feedback learning in all its departments across the board - from robotics and industry to energy and healthcare - and has always considered this a key area. The creation of a separate department is the logical outcome of a long-standing deep interest in artificial intelligence, which will be strengthened in particular by basic research. The guarantors of research excellence are the head of the department, Dr. Josef Urban, and group leaders Prof. Robert Babuška, Dr. Tomáš Mikolov and Dr. Mikoláš Janota.

"At CIIRC CTU we have managed to concentrate renowned scientists in artificial intelligence, such as Dr. Josef Urban, Prof. Robert Babuška, Dr. Tomáš Mikolov and Dr. Mikoláš Janota, whose research has the potential not only to effectively develop the field of AI, but also to fundamentally change it. Their research focuses on the development of general artificial intelligence - strong artificial intelligence, automatic reasoning or formal methods and machine learning," says CIIRC CTU Scientific Director Prof. Vladimír Mařík.

Dr. Josef Urban, head of the new Artificial Intelligence Department, focuses his research on automatic reasoning, i.e., for example, solving mathematical problems and verifying complicated software using automatic proofs. In 2020, he completed the prestigious ERC project AI4REASON, focusing on combining automatic reasoning and machine learning methods. "This week, Tomas Mikolov and I each gave an invited talk at AGI - Artificial General Intelligence - a major conference focused on general artificial intelligence. We are probably the only university in the world that had two keynote presentations at the same time at this conference," says Josef Urban, who has managed to assemble a very interesting international research team in his department.

Link to J. Urban's keynote - Towards the Dream of Self-Improving Universal Reasoning AI

Link to keynote T. Mikolov - AGI: Why and How?

Dr. Tomáš Mikolov, head of the Basic AI Research Group, is well known in the Czech Republic and abroad not only as a scientific capacity in the field of artificial intelligence with experience from Google, Microsoft or Facebook, but also as a popularizer of the field of artificial intelligence. Thanks to the RICAIP centre at the CIIRC of CTU, he has been building his team working on strong artificial intelligence for two years. "Just as complex life forms on Earth have evolved naturally, complex artificial intelligence should also emerge through gradual evolution," says Tomas Mikolov. He sees basic research as an essential prerequisite for innovations and applications in other fields.

Profesor Robert Babuška leads the Machine Learning group and his team focuses on deep learning and reinforcement learning research. The team develops these machine learning methods primarily for applications in robotics. Robert Babuška is the project leader of the ERDF project Robotics Excellence Teams for Industry 4.0. In September 2021, the IEEE IROS conference was held, organized by CIIRC CTU, where Prof. Babuška served as program chair. The conference was attended by almost three thousand scientists from the world of robotics.

Dr. Mikoláš Janota, who came to CIIRC CTU from Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, Portugal, to implement his ERC CZ grant, is also involved in automatic reasoning and formal methods. He will lead the Formal Methods group in the newly established department.

The long-term strategy in the field of artificial intelligence at CIIRC CTU is based not only on scientific excellence but also on cooperation with foreign structures - from scientific institutions and specialized organizations to (mainly) European projects. The prestigious organisations CLAIRE and ELLIS have their Czech branches here, which seek to strengthen international sovereignty and the development of artificial intelligence, especially within Europe as a counterweight to the current AI superpowers - USA and China. CIIRC CTU also participates in Czech projects such as National Centres of Competence - Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence and actively cooperates with teams from other Czech universities.

"As part of the AI Czechia activity, we were the first to map artificial intelligence and its scientific potential in the Czech Republic. I am convinced that through international cooperation, knowledge exchange and the search for common synergies, our country can succeed significantly in the field of artificial intelligence. The creation of a strong scientific team for basic research in artificial intelligence in conjunction with follow-up application projects is an essential prerequisite for this," says Prof. Vladimír Mařík, outlining the overall strategy of the CIIRC CTU in the field of AI.