Teemu Roos emphasises the role of universities in realising the benefits of AI

Artificial Intelligence is expected to provide solutions to a wide variety of problems and needs, but in order to realise the benefits while minimising the damage, long-term research and broad access to education are needed, says Teemu Roos, associate professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki.

Much of artificial intelligence research is multidisciplinary. It is often slow and requires long-term funding.

“It may take years for people from various fields to learn to talk with each other. Projects often last a couple of years, and launching them is risky, if there is no certainty about continuing funding,” says Roos.

He thinks that universities receive too little recognition for the artificial intelligence research they conduct.

“There is a great deal of talk about research conducted by Google, IBM and Facebook. Yet the individuals working in these companies have been educated by universities. Secondly, without the university ecosystem, the majority of companies could not utilise artificial intelligence. Large companies may conduct their own research and product development, but even they don’t have the desire or resources to conduct the critical basic research on which innovations are based.”

AI being a hot topic, decision-makers in politics and the corporate world easily lose sight of the difference between experts and “experts”. Genuine expertise is needed to ensure that the Finnish population can be trained to recognise the possibilities and dangers inherent in artificial intelligence – for example, the potential to shape opinions.

“When it comes to issues related to artificial intelligence, researchers are the experts you should listen to,” says Roos.

These thoughts are well in line with FCAI’s mission to create Real AI for Real People in the Real World. In addition to his distinguished research in machine learning, Roos himself is the lead instructor of the Elements of AI online course that aims to educate 1% of the Finnish population to understand the basics of artificial intelligence.

For the full interview, please see the University of Helsinki website.