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Innovative AI Program Established at NTHU
Understanding people is a key element in developing a realistic robot in addition to mechanical knowledge. This is the guiding principle of a new interdisciplinary program jointly established by NTHU and the Winbond Electronics Corporation for training the next generation of artificial intelligence (AI) engineers. Encompassing eight NTHU colleges, the program includes classes in psychology, linguistics, anthropology, philosophy, and system neurology, and focuses on the design of robots which can be used in such areas as manufacturing, household chores, childcare, and medical treatment.
 
Known as the Winbond-Tsinghua Symbolic Systems Program (WTSSP), this ambitious undertaking was officially launched by NTHU President Hocheng Hong and Winbond Chairman and CEO Arthur Yu-Cheng Chiao, who recently signed a contract at the Innovation Incubation Center.
 
President Hocheng said that it was Winbond’s reputation as a leading learning institute in the IT industry that inspired NTHU to jointly set up this unique cooperation between industry and academia. With a diverse group of researchers approaching AI from their respective disciplines, the innovative program aspires to match the achievements of the well-known Symbolic Systems Program at Stanford University.
 
Predicting that in 30 years, about 90% of work in Taiwan will be performed by robots, Chiao said that enterprises need to find a way to adapt to this situation. He expects the program will help Winbond employees acquire the knowledge and skills needed to play a leading role in the workplace of the future.
 
Chiao pointed out that in the recent film Arrival, the two individuals sent to communicate with the aliens are a physicist and a linguist, indicating that such a task is not something that engineers, as we know them currently, can do by themselves. Similarly, to communicate with robots, we have to understand such things as linguistics and drawing. Moreover, the manager of the future will need to be able to manage not only people, but also robots.
 
Lin Wenyuan, the director of NTHU’s Center for General Education, which is organizing the six-month program, said that it encompasses 8 colleges and 14 departments, and that about half of the classes are in subjects directly related to AI, such as mathematics and electrical engineering. The other half are subjects relating to human communication. The program features small classes and two small-group practicums.
 
One of the classes is “The Cognitive and Emotional Neuroscience of Humor,” taught by Prof. Chan Yu-chen of the Institute of Learning Sciences and Technologies. Chan specializes in psychology, and uses nuclear magnetic resonance and brain waves to explore the neural mechanisms related to humor. She is also investigating the possibility of inventing a robot that has a sense of humor. Prof.Lin Tzung-de of the Institute of Sociology is teaching a class on the ethical issues relating to robotics.
 
Amongst the first group of students is Tai Yanjie, the director of the Human Resources Department at Winbond. Tai said that AI's time has come and that her motivation for participating in the course is to understand how AI ​​will change the world. She also said that she’s looking forward to delving into a number of subjects that are quite new to most people in the IT industry.
 

NTHU President Hocheng Hong (right) and Winbond chairman and CEO Arthur Chiao holding the contract officially launching the WTSSP.

NTHU President Hocheng Hong (right) and Winbond chairman and CEO Arthur Chiao holding the contract officially launching the WTSSP.


Participants at the WTSSP inauguration ceremony.

Participants at the WTSSP inauguration ceremony.

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