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02/01/2021

New Amazon Research Center Focuses on Controversial Areas

New Amazon Research Center Focuses on Controversial Areas
According to Amazon, the center will unleash a new line of fundamental research on privacy and security aspects of machine learning.

Food retailers that want to embrace technologies such as machine learning to better serve shoppers and boost revenues might soon feel the increasing influence of researchers from Amazon and the University of Southern California.

That's because Amazon and the university are creating a joint research center focused on the development of new approaches to machine learning, privacy, security and trustworthiness. Research conducted by the new Center for Secure and Trusted Machine Learning — along with the policies that might result from it — could shape fresh deployments of cutting-edge software and analytical and data processes, some no doubt already well-established at Amazon.

According to Amazon, the center will unleash a new line of fundamental research on privacy and security aspects of machine learning — a timely and critical effort given the proliferation of artificial intelligence across all aspects of society from education to finance, transportation, healthcare and many others.

Each year, the center will provide support for research projects focused on the development of new methodologies for secure and privacy-preserving machine learning solutions that can scale to support billions of users. In addition, the center will provide annual fellowships to talented doctoral students working in this research area, enabling them to advance research frontiers. Fellowship recipients will be named as Amazon Machine Learning Fellows in recognition of their promise and achievements. These fellowships will give students greater understanding of industry and solution-driven research.

“At Amazon, our mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company,” said Prem Natarajan, Alexa AI vice president of Natural Understanding. “For us, customer trust is of paramount importance. And that means maintaining the highest possible standards of security and privacy when handling customer data. We are delighted to bring together top talent at Amazon and USC in a joint mission to drive ground-breaking advances in privacy and security preserving machine learning — advances that enable us to continue to safely and securely deliver experiences that enrich and delight our customers worldwide.”

In addition to funded research projects and annual fellowships for doctoral students, the collaborators will host an annual joint public research symposium to share their knowledge with the machine learning and AI communities. Amazon and USC will also host annual workshops, and training and recruiting events for university and high school students.

“We are delighted to partner with Amazon in establishing the Center for Secure and Trusted Machine Learning at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Creating such mutually beneficial partnerships between academia and industry will help guide the development of a field as important and as rapidly changing as machine learning and artificial intelligence. Enhancing the security and trustworthiness of these powerful technologies is a necessity and a grand challenge-type problem. We eagerly anticipate the results of this new collaboration,” said Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

The new center is expected to leverage talent and scholarship across Amazon and USC Viterbi, particularly the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Department of Computer Science, and the school’s leading research institutes, such as the Information Sciences Institute.

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