Prof. Dr. Nikhil R. Pal, FTWAS, FIEEE


Prof. Dr. Nikhil R. Pal, FTWAS, FIEEE

Electronics and Communication Sciences Unit Center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, India

Topics: Artificial Intelligence-Are we ready for “AI everywhere”?


We are witnessing an astonishing success of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in diverse areas including gaming, healthcare, E-commerce, automobiles, robotics, and education to name a few; consequently, the expectation from AI has skyrocketed. There is a global thrust on “AI for all” and “AI everywhere”. But are we really ready for these? Apparently, there is an implicit belief in philosophies like “bigger the better” (bigger data sets or bigger architecture with millions of free parameters) and “the data say all”. Such approaches have been found to be very successful too. But are we in the right direction? Are all real-life problems big data problems? Does a child need thousands of examples to learn distinguishing between cows and dogs, for example? Certainly NOT ! In this talk, I shall make a cursory tour through the evolution of AI and then discuss some of the major issues that demand attention. For example, most of the neural network (deep or shallow) based systems are neither comprehensible nor biologically plausible. Could these cause problems? Well, they at least raise some important concerns.  In my view, any intelligent system should have, at least, attributes like simplicity, transparency, fairness, explainability, trustworthiness, sustainability, and its biological plausibility, if that makes sense. Ideally, we should try to realize all these attributes in any AI system, but that would be very difficult. Moreover, obtaining universally acceptable definitions of these attributes may not be an easy task. There are ethical and social issues including misuse of AI.  I shall discuss some of these issues. I shall also allude to the role of brain science in designing useful AI systems. Finally, I shall illustrate how one of these issues can be partially addressed taking inspiration from cat’s visual cortex.


Nikhil R. Pal is a Professor in the Electronics and Communication Sciences Unit  and is the Head of the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning of the Indian Statistical Institute. His current research interest includes brain science, computational intelligence, machine learning, and data mining. He was the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems for the period January 2005-December 2010. He served/has been serving on the editorial /advisory board/ steering committee  of several  journals including the International Journal of Approximate Reasoning, Applied Soft Computing, International Journal of Neural Systems, Fuzzy Sets and Systems, IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems and the IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics.

He is a recipient of the 2015 IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (CIS) Fuzzy Systems Pioneer Award, He has given many plenary/keynote speeches in different premier international conferences in the area of computational intelligence. He has served as the General Chair, Program Chair, and co-Program chair of several conferences. He was a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE  CIS  (2010-2012, 2016-2018.) and was a member of the Administrative Committee of the IEEE CIS (2010-2012). He served as the Vice-President for Publications of the IEEE CIS (2013-2016) and the President  of the IEEE CIS (2018-2019).

He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India, Indian National Academy of Engineering, Indian National Science Academy, International Fuzzy Systems Association (IFSA), The World Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the IEEE, USA.  (