Science for Social Good

C4AI: A New Center for Artificial Intelligence to accelerate science and innovation in Brazil

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Today we make a great move on AI research in Brazil by announcing that IBM, University of São Paulo (USP) and FAPESP (São Paulo State Research Foundation) are inaugurating the Center for Artificial Intelligence (C4AI) in Brazil, dedicated to developing cutting-edge studies and research on AI to address topics of great social and economic impact. This new center will be based in InovaUSP, in São Paulo.

The Center will initially focus on five Great Challenges related to healthcare, environment, food production networks, future of work, and the development of Natural Language Processing technology in Portuguese, looking for ways to improve human well-being and support diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Simultaneously, three advisory committees will be created to promote topics of common interest to the country focused on industry, science and society. These committees aimed to expand these five starting challenges and give them real-life applications, useful for Brazilian companies and society.

The C4AI will open a second research location which will also train students and professionals, spreading knowledge and transferring the benefits of technology to society. This location will be installed at ICMC-USP (Institute of Mathematical and Computer Sciences) in São Carlos.

Science matters more than ever and it will play a defining role in determining the wellbeing and prosperity of humanity. This center is a demonstration of the value of collaboration between the local innovation ecosystem to address the most complex challenges for society and business. We reinforce IBM’s commitment to promoting knowledge and skills in critical areas for the country’s development, where the use of rapidly advancing technologies like AI and Hybrid Cloud are fundamental.

The advances in AI research also enable the transformation of companies and society and we see a great opportunity to expand the study and application in relevant segments for the country. We are creating an ecosystem to put together the productive, academic, and innovation sectors so that the real value of artificial intelligence increases the experience and skills of human talents, placing technology at service of governments, citizens, and businesses in several areas of the economy.


Five Great Challenges


  • AgriBio – Models of cause and effect for decision-making processes under uncertainty in the agribusiness sector


The agribusiness production cycles, environmental sustainability, climate change, and food security are current demands that challenge food producers, distributors, and consumers. This line of study will focus on cause and effect models for agricultural production chains, especially for small producers. The goal will be to use advanced probabilistic models for decision making based on cause and effect, addressing many sources of concern, such as food and water waste.


  • KELM (Knowledge-Enhanced Machine Learning) – focused on Blue Amazon Brain (BLAB)


Combining data-based learning and knowledge-based reasoning, Blue Amazon Brain (BLAB), as the project is being called, aims to address complex questions about Blue Amazon, a vast region of the Atlantic Ocean comprising all the Brazilian coast, rich in biodiversity and energy resources.

BLAB will include arguments, causes, explanations, reasoning, and plans for specific tasks, providing answers to the most diverse questions about the marine ecosystem, as specific as “why the migration of penguins decrease in 2020 on the Brazilian Coast” or as complex as “what caused the appearance of oil stains on Brazilian Northeast coast”. This line of study also aims to make conversations about Blue Amazon available for public consultation.


  • Strokes modeling to improve diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.


Advances in machine learning in medicine are notable. However, there are still important issues which need to be addressed. In this front of study, two issues of great importance will be addressed: how to integrate and select relevant medical resources (biomarkers) from heterogeneous and dynamic sources on a large scale; and how to interpret decisions made by machine learning algorithms integrating human and artificial intelligence.

In the first phase of the study, there will be two research areas. On one hand, improving diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of stroke patients with techniques for analyzing complex networks in multimodal data. On the other hand, investigating ways to improve rehabilitation protocols in cases of stroke, which will bring an important social contribution.


  • AI in emerging countries: public policies and future of work.


This area of study front will involve several humanities areas at USP, such as economics, history, sociology, and social sciences. They will work on mapping, understanding, and addressing the impact of AI in emerging economies such as the Brazilian one. There is a significant consensus that, in the field of AI, many countries are lagging behind pioneer countries, in particular US and China.

Initially, the C4AI will focus on research around public policy aspects for artificial intelligence, also collecting and analyzing data related to the impact of AI on jobs and the future of work.


  • NLP (Natural Language Processing) state-of-the-art for Portuguese.


Today there is little public availability of tools and data to train speech and text processing systems in Portuguese. The center’s objective will be to enable high-level NLP in Brazilian Portuguese, just as it already exists for other languages, enabling its better application in the current demands of society, for example, improving customer service, training of virtual assistants, legal support, analysis and extraction of knowledge from large data sources, among other.


Advisory committees


Artificial Intelligence Center will also have three advisory committees to promote topics of common interest to society, related to science, industry and inclusion:


  • An international scientific committee, whose function will be to evaluate the scientific progress of the center.


  • An industry and society committee, with the participation of representatives of companies from different sectors in Brazil, public agencies and civil society, who will collaborate so that the center has the greatest possible impact on industry, economy, and society.


  • A diversity and inclusion committee, whose function will be to promote and increase the participation of women, afro-descendants, and other members of society so that we have more inclusive participation in the AI sector, both in academia and in industry.



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