Jürgen Schmidhuber Appointed as Director of AI Initiative at KAUST – HPCwire

THUWAL, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 2, 2021 — King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) announces the appointment of Professor Jürgen Schmidhuber as director of the University’s Artificial Intelligence Initiative. Schmidhuber is a renowned computer scientist who is most noted for his pioneering work in the field of artificial intelligence, deep learning, and artificial neural networks. He will join KAUST on October 1, 2021.

Jürgen Schmidhuber. Credit: Philippe Rossier.

Professor Schmidhuber earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Technical University of Munich (TUM). He is a Co-Founder and the Chief Scientist of the company NNAISENSE and was most recently Scientific Director at the Swiss AI Lab, IDSIA, and Professor of AI at the University of Lugano. He is also the recipient of numerous awards, author of over 350 peer-reviewed papers, a frequent keynote speaker and an adviser to various governments on AI strategies.

His lab’s deep learning neural networks have revolutionized machine learning and AI. By the mid-2010s, they were implemented on over 3 billion devices and used billions of times per day by customers of the world’s most valuable public companies’ products, e.g., for greatly improved speech recognition on all Android phones, greatly improved machine translation through Google Translate and Facebook (over 4 billion translations per day), Apple’s Siri and Quicktype on all iPhones, the answers of Amazon’s Alexa, and numerous other applications. In 2011, his team was the first to win official computer vision contests through deep neural nets with superhuman performance. In 2012, they had the first deep neural network to win a medical imaging contest (on cancer detection), attracting enormous interest from the industry. His research group also established the fields of artificial curiosity through generative adversarial neural networks, linear transformers and networks that learn to program other networks (since 1991), mathematically rigorous universal AI and recursive self-improvement in meta-learning machines that learn to learn (since 1987).

Professor Schmidhuber will join KAUST’s already prominent AI faculty, recruit new faculty members and top student prospects from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and around the world, develop educational programs and entrepreneurial activities, and engage with key public and private sector organizations both within the Kingdom and globally. Researchers he joins include KAUST’s new Provost, Lawrence Carin, a leading expert in artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Deputy Director of the AI Initiative, Bernard Ghanem, the founding Interim Director Wolfgang Heidrich, and many other highly cited faculty in Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, the Biological Sciences, and the Earth Sciences.

AI and machine learning are becoming established as core methodologies throughout science and engineering, as they have been in commercial and social spheres. KAUST expects AI to aid in the analysis of huge amounts of data coming from the Kingdom’s gigaprojects and the design of data gathering in these domains and its own laboratories and fields. AI is also expected to play a big role in the Kingdom’s energy transitions in hydrogen, carbon capture, solar, and wind. In both basic research and incorporation into its daily operations, KAUST is aligned with the vision of the Kingdom for a digital transformation powered by artificial intelligence.

KAUST President Tony Chan, himself a highly cited computer scientist and applied mathematician, expressed, “I am delighted that we are able to recruit to KAUST a seminal leader in AI and machine learning in Dr. Schmidhuber. This signifies the commitment that KAUST, as well as Saudi Arabia, is making to lead in and contribute to this very important field.”


King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) advances science and technology through distinctive and collaborative research integrated with graduate education. Located on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia, KAUST conducts curiosity-driven and goal-oriented research to address global challenges related to food, water, energy, and the environment.

Established in 2009, KAUST is a catalyst for innovation, economic development and social prosperity in Saudi Arabia and the world. The University currently educates and trains master’s and doctoral students, supported by an academic community of faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and research scientists.

With over 100 nationalities working and living at KAUST, the University brings together people and ideas from all over the world. To learn more visit kaust.edu.sa.

Source: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology