Leading Artificial intelligence in Europe
Switzerland and the Greater Zurich Area have occupied top positions in renowned worldwide rankings on innovative strength and talent availability. Switzerland boasts the highest number of AI companies per citizen, according to ASGARD, a Venture Capital firm for Artificial Intelligence. Greater Zurich’s various research institutes, such as ETH Zurich and the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA, continue to rank as some of the leading technical institutes in the world and attract the best talents and companies including Google, IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle and many others.
Whether it's the development of a human-like intelligence or the programming of independent problem-solving solutions: in the Greater Zurich Area, the world's best talents work to decode the principles that govern intelligence. In many industries, established companies and emerging startups are pushing forward projects and business ideas that focus on artificial intelligence.
Research and Development
Researchers in the Greater Zurich Area want to make machines not only more capable but also better learners. The Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems Lab at ETH Zurich is researching what constitutes the intelligence of living things. The mission of the Robotics and Perception Group of the of the University of Zurich is to develop autonomous machines that can navigate all by themselves using only onboard cameras, without relying on external infrastructures, such as GPS or motion capture systems. In Lugano, the work of the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA (Istituto Dalle Molle di Studi sull'Intelligenza Artificiale) focuses on machine learning (deep neural networks, reinforcement learning), operations research, data mining, and robotics. In addition, the universities USI (Università della Svizzera italiana) or SUPSI (University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland) offer AI degree programs, thereby strengthening Greater Zurich's pool of talents.
Leading Europe’s AI Research
Google has been strongly investing in its Zurich location (the company’s largest campus outside the U.S.) by increasing its workforce of roughly 3,000 by adding AI and machine learning specialists and with plans to increase its total workforce in the region to 5,000. From cutting edge startups like Teralytics, Starmind and Squiro to multinationals such as Apple, Disney, Facebook, Google, Go-Pro, Huawei, IBM, Magic Leap, Microsoft, Oracle and Samsung, a growing number of companies have R&D labs in Switzerland, many of them in collaboration with Swiss universities and institutions.
Dr. Rolf Pfeifer, professor emeritus at the University of Zurich and former head of its AI research lab was among the very few in the 90s with an interest in humanoid robots and artificial intelligence. After a series of unfruitful trails of experimenting with an algorithm, he made a mid-career shift from algorithm research to robotics in the 90s . He came to the conclusion that artificial intelligence has to be a stand-alone organism. Today, Pfeifer proposes that realistic communications and employing the concepts of embodiment are key in coping with the “AI hype”. Building on Pfeifer’s research, a recently launched organisation in Zug, the Mindfire Foundation, focuses on understanding the foundational principles which make up human intelligence and applying those principles to the development of artificially intelligent organisms. To achieve this goal, Mindfire, implemented a series of missions. Each mission gathers the top minds across various fields of science, to collaborate and brainstorm solutions to a structured series of challenges.