For Dr. Jonathan Francis it’s about living on the edge as a climber and as an Artificial Intelligence (AI) researcher.
Whether it’s climbing to the top or successfully creating a useful AI solution Jonathan says, “in both cases, you’re attacking challenges and living on the edge. There’s a fine line between success and failure which makes your accomplishment all the more rewarding”
On a vertical rock face or ice formation, Jonathan is often the lead climber which means free climbing to find the right path of hand, finger and footholds and then placing intermediate anchors and a rope for his fellow climbers.
Not surprisingly, Jonathan embraces the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Where there is no path, leave a trail.”
It’s a trail that Jonathan is also creating for AI applications in our homes, manufacturing, automated mobility and a myriad of other solutions that align with the Bosch ethos of “Invented for life”.
He is driven to bridge the gap between the cyber and human world and therein lies the challenge.
Jonathan is developing breakthroughs in the areas of Multimodal Machine Learning, Embodied AI, and Neuro-symbolic AI to give a machine “common sense” and the “skills” to interact with the real world.
This means teaching it how to effectively interpret and respond to the massive amounts of sensor data it receives.
For instance, with Bosch automated driving technologies, sensors can be fully aware of the 360 degree driving environment second by second. Taking all this sensor data, interpreting and acting on it, helps automated driving become a reality.
As a child, he was inspired by his father, an engineer. Jonathan loved to build, disassemble and reassemble things to learn how they work and make them better.
These passions led him to climb his way to a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University and to the Bosch Research & Technology Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. as a research scientist. Jonathan says "With Bosch I have access to vast amounts of domain expertise that the company has compounded over decades, in a surprisingly diverse portfolio of technologies and industries. Add to that being surrounded by brilliant colleagues and efficient management structures, I get the encouragement I need to explore cutting-edge scientific ideas and interests, with remarkable levels of support."
He is all too aware of the science fiction-fueled concerns about AI. However, his approach is aligned with Bosch to make AI transparent, safe, secure, efficient and robust. “While continuing to seek elegant solutions to the hard theoretical problems, AI technology should be grounded to applications that are beneficial for and in support of humans. This means the application is only focused on proven legitimate uses and deployment scenarios,” says Jonathan.
Safe, secure and supportive are words that apply to Jonathan’s successful climb to the top of real mountains and scientific ones as well.