Interview with Marko Grobelnik, a researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). His areas of expertise are Machine Learning, Data/Text/Web Mining, Network Analysis, Semantic Technologies, Deep Text Understanding, and Data Visualization. Marko co-leads Artificial Intelligence Lab at Jozef Stefan Institute, co-founded the International Research Center on AI (IRCAI), and is the CEO of Quintelligence.com, specialised in solving complex AI tasks for the commercial world. He collaborates with major European academic institutions and major industries such as Bloomberg, British Telecom, European Commission, Microsoft Research, New York Times. Marko is the co-author of several books, co-founder of several start-ups and was involved in over 50 EU funded research projects in various fields of Artificial Intelligence. Marko represents Slovenia in OECD AI Committee (ONE AI), in Council of Europe Committee on AI (CAHAI), and Global Partnership on AI (GPAI). In 2016, Marko became the Digital Champion of Slovenia.
“ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS FIRST AND FOREMOST A BIG OPPORTUNITY FOR SLOVENIA”
Q: In September 2016, you were named the Digital Champion of Slovenia for a four year period. What does this title bring?
The role of the Digital Champion is to raise a voice for the profession in situations, where extra unbiased opinion is appreciated. Other European countries have a similar function, and we occasionally meet and exchange knowledge with colleagues. Otherwise, this function also gives me additional attention in the sense of invitations to interviews and presentations, in one way or another connected with digitalisation. Lately, the majority of such presentations and interviews have been connected with artificial intelligence and the COVID-19 crisis.
Q: Where is Slovenia positioned regarding artificial intelligence on a global scale?
Slovenia belongs to the very best countries in the world regarding the results of research. When it comes to the number of companies, creating such technology, we are less brilliant. All in all, Slovenia is a small country, and we hardly play a role on a global scale, yet we are extremely good at certain segments. This includes innovations, happening on a local level, as well as events, organised regionally or abroad, further increasing our reach and acknowledgement.
Q: In your opinion, what does this mean for Slovenia?
Artificial intelligence is first and foremost a big opportunity for Slovenia. Based on forty years of history in developing artificial intelligence, we have an array of experiences from this area, and this allows us to compete in innovation. Indeed, modern artificial intelligence has mostly focused on areas, where expensive and high-tech computer equipment is needed – here solely the biggest and richest companies can compete. Nevertheless, there is still plenty of room for ideas, which have to do more with wits and less with expensive equipment. I see the future and competitiveness of Slovenia in this area on a European and global scale in the field of artificial intelligence.
Q: Are you planning on hosting any local or international events in the future?
With the size of Slovenia’s science community, dedicated to artificial intelligence, we annually host from one to two international events in Slovenia or regionally (Croatia). Currently, we are preparing to organise one of the largest academic computer events called “The Web Conference 2021”. In ordinary circumstances, the event would bring around 2000 – 3000 participants to Slovenia. Considering the current situation, it seems that the event will have to take place online, or in the best-case scenario in a hybrid form.