On June 24th, the four-day 2020 BAAI Conference featuring internationalism, authority, professionalism and forward-looking-ness ended successfully online. More than 150 speakers of top experts and scholars in the field of Artificial Intelligence from around ten countries and regions attended this event, including five winners of Turing Award: Judea Pearl, Alan Kay, Joseph Sifakis, Manuel Blum, and John Hopcroft; Jürgen Schmidhuber, Co-director of the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research; Jeannette M. Wing, Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University, Alex Pentland, Member of US National Academies; Regina Barzilay, Professor at MIT; Ruslan Salakhutdinov, Professor at Carnegie Mellon University; Jorge Nocedal, Professor at Northwestern University; Bart Selman, Professor at Cornell University etc. More than 500,000 professional audience from home and abroad watched the online webinar. More than 70 domestic and overseas media such as CCTV, Beijing TV, Xinhua News Agency, and Global Times reported the progress and fruits of this conference.

The BAAI Conference is an annual international high-end academic exchange event on artificial intelligence hosted by the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence (BAAI), aimed to be an international “Expert Conference on AI”. The first conference was held in 2019, and this year marks the second, with the theme to be “The Next Decade of Artificial Intelligence.” At a special moment in the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 BAAI Conference was held online in its entirety. Global top experts and scholars in the field of artificial intelligence met via the webinar to discuss the development trend of artificial intelligence in the next decade, promote the international exchange and cooperation in the field of AI, play the supporting role of AI against the pandemic, and gather a strong joint force to fight against the global epidemic.

During the four-day thought-provoking discussion, top scientists and industry leaders shared their perspectives regarding the challenges faced by and the prospective development of AI. Topics like “How to build an innovative system of multidiscipline, openness and collaboration?” “How to achieve breakthroughs regarding basic AI theory and key technology?”, “How to promote the deep integration between AI and economic and social development?”, “How to build an artificially safe and controllable governance system?” and “How to work with global countries to address common challenges through research and cooperation?” were fully explored.

Highlights of the conference: Director Tiejun Huang (bottom left) of BAAI, Chairman Hongjiang Zhang (top center), Deputy Director of Operation Jiang Liu (bottom center) and Turing Award winner Alan Kay ( top left) had a discussion at the meeting.

Build a Cutting-edge Academic Exchange Platform for Experts and Scholars in the Global Artificial Intelligence Field

At the opening ceremony, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Meng Li and Vice Mayor of Beijing, Yong Yin delivered a speech online. In his speech, Vice Minister Meng Li introduced a series of measures taken by the Ministry of Science and Technology to accelerate the implementation of relevant tasks for the new trend of AI development planning, including establishing the new AI Innovation Development Pilot Zone in 11 regions including Beijing and publishing the “New Edition of AI Governance Principles”, etc. Yong Yin, Deputy Mayor of Beijing, given the new situation where the Covid-19 pandemic is still spreading around the world, believes that the 2020 BAAI Conference will build a cutting-edge academic exchange platform for experts and scholars in the global artificial intelligence field to discuss about “AI Battling the Covid-19 Pandemic”, “AI Ethics, Governance and Sustainable Development”, etc. , which proves to be of great significance.

Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology: Meng Li

Deputy Mayor of Beijing:Yong Yin

Tiejun Huang, Director of BAAI introduced the progress of BAAI in the past year and the future plan from five aspects: BAAI Scholars Program, BAAI Community, Data Center and Smart Healthcare, Innovation Center, Ethics and Sustainable Development.

Director of BAAI: Tiejun Huang

BAAI Scholars Program

In the past year, BAAI has selected and supported 85 scholars, with "BAAI Researchers" and "BAAI Young Scientists" as the main body; in the new year, the "BAAI Scholars Program" will be expanded to five levels from "BAAI Researchers, BAAI Young Scientists, BAAI Rising Stars, BAAI Explorers, to BAAI Post-doctor", of which the “BAAI Rising Stars” program supports young scholars under the age of 33. The BAAI Explorers program supports outstanding talents who intend to seek development in Beijing, with no particular limitations and high flexibility of access. Regarding the direction of research, the BAAI is organizing and condensing new directions such as cognitive neural basis, decision intelligence, and machine perception, and is specifically supporting the open exploration research.

Meanwhile, two major accomplishments organized by BAAI were released at this conference: one is the result of close collaboration between universities and scholars in many fields-the world’s first “machine learning general mathematical symbol set”; the second is the report “The Next Decade of Artificial Intelligence.” jointly completed by BAAI and a number of institutions.

Data Center and Smart Healthcare

Based on the three themes of “data opening”, “knowledge map”, and “algorithm platform”, BAAI has built an open platform of data and knowledge for smart healthcare, including "Covid-19 open data source", Chinese and English bilingual Covid-19 knowledge Atlas, CogDL, etc. Next, BAAI will conduct federal experiments in the field of smart healthcare based on breast cancer data sets to break through the research and development in key technologies for medical data sharing.

BAAI Innovation Center

It is positioned to support the key technology research by opening up the ecological resources of BAAI, and promote the original major innovation of AI and the landing and deep application of key technologies. For example, focusing on the major academic direction of BAAI, BAAI will support the landing of original major innovation achievements of BAAI scholars or AI scientists in universities.

Ethics and Sustainable Development

Currently there are two important progress: the development of an accurate tracking system for intimate contacts of infection chains to protect privacy-Blue Bubble; in addition, BAAI initiated to establish the “AI4SDGs Think Tank” and “AI4SDGs Research Program”.

Suggestions on AI Scientific Research

At the 2020 BAAI Conference, Bart Selman, President-elect of AAAI, Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University, John Hopcroft, Turing Award winner, Member of the Academic Committee of BAAI, and Alan Kay, Turing Award winner, all talked about suggestions on AI scientific research in their conversations with Hongjiang Zhang, Chairman of BAAI.

Based on the status quo in the United Sates that American AI research ignores research in important fields due to its business orientation, Bart Selman suggested that AI national infrastructure be built, including shared data sets, software libraries, computing resources, etc. so that industries that cannot obtain sufficient resources as a result of lacking in money and influence can also contribute to the development of AI.

John Hopcroft suggested using "curiosity-driven" strategy in AI research. He believes that the reason why we cannot achieve general artificial intelligence in the short term is because current AI research is generally driven by specific engineering indicators. People have spent a lot of energy in improving the performance of algorithms in specific fields, but the important breakthrough in future artificial intelligence may not come from computer science experts, but biological researchers. Therefore, we need more curiosity-driven research.

Alan Kay discussed the mechanism of how to solve the most important problems in history, and put forward suggestions on making breakthrough research. He mentioned that many of today’s “Immense Challenges” are intertwined complex systems such as food, climate, water resources, shelter, cooperation, education, ecology, pollution, energy, population, rights and health. We cannot solve our problems with the same kinds of thinking we used when we created them. When the problem cannot be solved, we need to look back and see how those "major challenges" were addressed. We must invent "new thinking patterns" and foster a better education environment, which is part of the solution. He gave 19 suggestions on AI Scientific Research:

1. The goodness of the results correlates most strongly with the goodness of the funders.
2. Visions instead of goals
3. Cosmic metaphors really help imagination
4. Fund people not projects
5. Fund problem-finding, not just problem-solving
6. No peer review
7. Allow failure (It’s baseball, not golf!)
8. Fund great people (MacArthur for groups!)
9. It’s a research community not a research project
10. Important results include new great people
11. Separate responsibility from control
12. Synergy requires constant messaging
13. “No one can have good ideas inside the Beltway”
14. Train your successor and get back to work!
15. Argue to make progress, not to win
16. If you have the ability to invent and make new tools that are needed for your problem, then you must.
17. Think and work in the future, not the present or past
18. Take an idea immediately 30 years out to evaluate
19. What Is Actually Needed (WIAN)