PNNL chosen to be part of Department of Energy artificial intelligence research center

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Artificial intelligence touches our lives in multiple ways. Scientists around the world recognize the potential of AI, but they also realize there is still a lot of research and development to be done.

A new $5.5 million center, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, is hoping to further that research. Three institutions were chosen to be a part of the project, including the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

PNNL scientists will partner with researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the Georgia Institute of Technology for the Center for Artificial Intelligence-Focused Architectures and Algorithms (ARIAA), combining areas of expertise from all three organizations.

“Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing our world, from cell phones to self-driving cars, to analyzing data and scientific discovery,” said PNNL senior research scientist Roberto Gioiosa. “But we recognize that the artificial intelligence we have today has some limitations.”

As the center’s director, Gioiosa hopes to tackle some of those limitations. Before joining PNNL in 2012, Gioiosa received his PhD in computer science engineering at the University of Rome. He has worked at the other two Manhattan Project National Historical sites, Oak Ridge National Lab and Los Alamos National Lab, and in 2008 was part of the IBM team that built the most powerful supercomputer in the world at the time.

Gioiosa will take his years of experience and apply it to this new role.

“What we’d like to do with the new center is develop specialized hardware in support of a new kind of artificial intelligence, where you don’t only get the answer but you also get why you got that answer,” he said.

While the center won’t be entirely focused on one scientific domain, the three institutions involved do bring specific strengths to the table.

For example, PNNL is known for its research relating to power grids, cybersecurity, chemistry, graph analytics and more. Much of the center’s research will focus around those areas.

While the scientists will work mostly remotely, Gioisioa hopes to meet in person on occasion and keep communication between the groups open.

“We can see that artificial intelligence changes every day life,” he said. “Can AI change the way we do science and accelerate the rate of scientific discoveries? There is need for fundamental research for that to happen.”