International technology company Amazon is cooperating with the University of Southern California (USC) to establish a new research center. It will be part of the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC. The news was announced on the Viterbi School of Engineering's official website on January 28, 2021. The relevance of digital technologies research is determined by the fact the artificial intelligence is becoming even more widespread in many areas and spheres of activity in the modern technological world, from transportation to the health care system.

According to LA Business Journal, the machine learning research center will also support studies focused on privacy protection in machine learning systems while Amazon struggles to improve privacy issues and challenges about its products. Since almost all Amazon products use AI and machine learning, AI is slowly becoming a significant component of our culture. Therefore, confidentiality and security are fundamental issues.

Although Amazon keeps partnerships with other educational institutions, the machine learning research center is the first Amazon’s partnership with USC of a kind.

Vice president of Amazon’s Alexa AI Prem Natarajan noted that “customer trust” was a top priority for the company and that research into privacy protection would ensure the company maintained “the highest possible standards of security and privacy when handling customer data.”

Research center management

The research center is going to be led by a computer and electrical engineering professor at USC, director of the Information Theory and Machine Learning research lab at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of USC Salman Avestimehr, who will supervise the entire project.

Prof. Avestimehr remarked that these studies would allow many companies to benefit from their activities. This program initiates the prospect for collaboration between the university and the industry on key security issues related to digital technologies development.

Center development plans

The center’s primary purpose is to make artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies safer, preserve privacy, and be more trusted by the public.

According to USC, qualified USC Ph.D. candidates will be accepted into its Amazon Machine Learning Fellows program within the center. That grants an opportunity for access to annual scholarships and different research projects. Directed by Prof. Avestimehr research center will organize research symposia and seminars on artificial intelligence annually.

The program also purposes to hold training and classes for students.

As part of a collaborative project between Amazon and USC, this research is focused on technological progress, digital technologies knowledge enlargement, and artificial intelligence studies resulting in the more extensive judgment of its practical benefits.