Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

‘Move 78’ Retreat – A great success

February 20, 2017

“I’m afraid of humans. I’m not afraid of AI,” – Max Versace

Wow! What a day we had at RIT on Friday, February 17, 2017. Over 275 faculty, students, staff, alums (and at least one trustee!) and friends came together to listen to talks, view posters, and discuss the topics of machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented intelligence and the like; we called it the Move 78 Retreat*. It was a day of thinking big.

A steering committee crafted a superb agenda and ran the retreat like clockwork. A super thanks to the members:

Steering Committee






Kudithipudi (Chair)

Ovesdotter Alm


Chris Kanan

Ed Brown






Ray Ptucha





The retreat featured three terrific keynote addresses by remarkable individuals in the computing field:

  • Dr. Max Versace, co-founder and CEO of Neurala spoke about his work in developing an intelligent system for the NASA Mars Rovers and the discovery that GPUs ere far better at supporting deep learning techniques than ordinary CPUs.
  • Dr. Bo Ewald, president of D-Wave Systems International, shared the landscape of quantum computing – an emerging technology that will upend conventional notions of computing. D-Wave is the maker of the world’s first commercial quantum computer, which can now be found at a limited number of academic institutions. Dr. Ewald has been president of Cray Computers and Silicon Graphics, two important players in super computer world.
  • Dr. Roman Yampolskiy, associate professor of computer engineering and computer science at the University of Louisville, spoke about the future of artificial intelligence. His talk included discussion on the negative aspects of artificial intelligence and the ‘bad actors’ who can use the technology in nefarious ways. Happily, Dr. Yampolskiy is an RIT Alum.

In addition to the keynote speakers, there was a delightful array of posters presenting the work of RIT faculty and students. I was deeply impressed with how our students articulated complicated technologies in ways that was easily understood.

The day closed with five break-out discussion groups amongst the participants to cull ideas of how RIT should move forward in this exciting domain. The five discussion groups were:

  • Impact of AI on Education, Ethics, and Law
  • Vision and Language
  • Robotics and Autonomous Systems
  • Cognitive Science and Bio-inspired Computing
  • Data Science and Analytics

It was clear to me that everyone felt that RIT was already doing a lot in this space but also felt that we wanted to do more. Bold ideas were advanced and I can imagine that leadership will emerge to propose this become a signature research area for RIT. No matter what, there is real momentum for machine learning and other cognitive technologies so I will be making sure that the dialogue continues.

*Move 78 refers to the 78th move in Game 4 of the now legendary best-of-five GO game series between Lee Sedol, a top Go player, and AlphaGo, the computing system developed by DeepMind (now owned by Google). See my earlier blog post for further details.