Rapidly advancing technology now makes it possible to create computer-based human-like thought processes that can solve complex problems based on big data.
This is the word from Professor Bhekisipho Twala, director of the new Institute for Intelligent Systems (UJ IIS) at the University of Johannesburg, which will open in January 2016.
“We’ll be partnering with industry and government to resolve challenges for the economic benefit of the country, as well as positive impact for business stakeholders and affected communities,” says Prof Twala.
“For example, we may partner with an organization to design intelligent systems to assist with financing decisions, detect fraud and identify unauthorized intrusions into IT systems. We may design systems to assist with medical diagnoses such as diabetes, with legal decisions, or architectural design optimisation.
“A good example of an intelligent system is determining if borrowers are likely to default on their loans from past experiences,” he explains. “This in turn affects whether the loans are approved or not. Intelligent systems are deployed at banks in South Africa to deal with the huge numbers of financial transactions generated every day and to determine credit risk.
“Such systems have also been used to make decisions when the available information is incomplete. Taking credit risk as an example, one should be able to assess an individual’s credit card application even when attributes such as income or proof of residence are missing.
“Intelligent systems can be also used to predict future wind turbine energy production using past production patterns and weather data; analyse road traffic accident information and develop precautionary measures; or to start understanding public health challenges such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS and malaria better.”
The UJ IIS will recruit a multi-disciplinary team of highly-qualified scientists and engineers from UJ and industry, with skills ranging from computer science through health sciences, management, accounting and more. The Institute will recruit post-graduate students for a first intake of 2017 says Prof Twala, followed thereafter by undergraduate degrees in disciplines such as intelligent systems, cloud computing, bio-informatics and computational biology.
The UJ IIS will be hosted within the University’s Auckland Park Kingsway campus.
In terms of research the Institute will focus on systems intelligence and cognitive computing; big data analytics and deep learning; digital revolution and machine learning; and industrial application of intelligent systems and cognitive computing.