In 2019, The German-French Academy for the Industry of the Future launched the Joint AI platform project. This platform bringing together IMT and the Technical University of Munich, promotes collaboration between researchers and industry to develop artificial intelligence tools. Its secure environment allows for intellectual property protection for the results, and the reproducibility of scientific results.
“The primary aim is to support artificial intelligence research projects between France and Germany.” This is how Anne-Sophie Taillandier begins her description of the Joint AI platform launched in 2019 by IMT and the Technical University of Munich. Since 2015, the two institutions have been working together through the German-French Academy for the Industry of the Future. This partnership has given rise to a number of research projects, some of which have focused on artificial intelligence. Researchers working in this area face a recurring problem: intellectual property protection for the results.
“One of the major risks for AI researchers is presenting their work to academic peers or industry stakeholders and having it stolen,” explains Anne-Sophie Taillandier. For several years, this French artificial intelligence expert has headed IMT’s TeraLab, which aims to facilitate AI research in a secure environment. “Through discussions with our colleagues at the Technical University of Munich, we realized that we each had infrastructures to host and develop AI projects, but that there was no transnational equivalent,” she explains. This gave rise to the Joint AI platform project: as a shared, reliable, protected site for German-French research on artificial intelligence.
The platform is based on technological and legal tools. The hardware architecture and workspaces are designed to host data and work on it with the desired security level. Using a set of APIs, the results of a project can be highlighted and shared on both sides of the border, without having to move the data or the software developed. “Everyone can work with confidence, without having to provide access to their executable or data,” says Anne-Sophie Taillandier.
A tool for researchers…
For researchers working on AI — as well as other scientific disciplines — facilitating cooperation means facilitating the progress of research projects and results. This is especially true for all research related to Industry 4.0, as is the case for the German-French Academy for the Industry of the Future projects that the Joint AI platform currently hosts. “Research on industry involves complex infrastructures, made up of human users and sensors that link the physical and digital dimensions,” says Georg Carle, holder of the Network Architectures and Services Chair at the Technical University of Munich, and co-director of the project with Anne-Sophie Taillandier.
He explains that, “In order to be valuable, this research must be based on real data and generate realistic models.” And the more the data is shared and worked on by different teams of researchers, the more effective the resulting algorithms will be. For Georg Carle, “the Joint AI platform makes it possible to improve the reproducibility of results” between the French and German teams. “This leads to higher-quality results, with a bigger impact for the industry stakeholders.”
And for companies!
In addition to providing a collaborative tool for researchers, the Joint AI platform also provides innovation opportunities for companies involved in partnership-based research. When a German industry stakeholder seeks to collaborate with French researchers or vice versa, the legal constraints for moving data represent a major hurdle. Such collaboration is further limited by the fact that, even within the same large company, it can be difficult for the French and German branches to exchange data. “This can be for a variety of reasons: human resources personal data, data related to industrial property, or data concerning clients with whom there is a confidentiality guarantee,” says Anne-Sophie Taillandier.
Companies therefore need a secure location, from both a technological and legal standpoint, to facilitate joint research. Joint AI therefore makes it easier for private stakeholders to take part in research projects at the European level, such as Horizon 2020 framework program projects — or Horizon Europe for future European research projects as of next year. Such a platform offers a prototype for a solution to one of the biggest problems facing AI and digital innovation: secure data sharing between different stakeholders.