SAP & Amadeus drive the Industrial Council of Research in Artificial Intelligence
He is an engineer from Polytech’Nice-Sophia. She graduated in Applied Mathematics and validated a thesis in optimization theory. They lead their careers in large international tech companies. And drive the Industrial Council for Artificial Intelligence Research (ICAIR). Olena Kushakovska (SAP) and Jean-Michel Sauvage (Amadeus) have been together at the helm of ICAIR since 2020 and have a clear ambition for the organization: to accelerate the work on AI with focus on Sustainability. As the 1st SAP Sustainability Summit is currently going-on, the Chief Executive Officer of SAP Labs France and the R&D Director for Revenue Management Solutions from Amadeus lent themselves to the cross-interview to give us their vision of sustainable AI.
What are the major benefits of AI in your industries?
Olena Kushakovska: At SAP, we are enabling our customers to become Intelligent Enterprises, to use data to build better, more resilient, more profitable, more agile, more sustainable businesses. We are putting our efforts into ensuring our intelligent enterprise reality is fully infused with AI capabilities.
Jean-Michel Sauvage: AI is a major technology which supports the best possible use of data and delivers a better, more efficient, predictable, personalized and higher added value service throughout the whole chain.
When, why and how did you engage with ICAIR?
Olena: Amadeus and SAP are founding members of ICAIR. The decision to go forward was taken between Gilles Floyrac and me about 2 years ago. Gilles was the President of Amadeus Nice at the time and Cote d’Azur has just got the 3IA label*. His idea was that the industrial companies drive the industrial agenda in parallel to the academic one, as more than 60 companies in the area have supported 3IA project. We have contacted 1st companies who we thought would be interested (e.g. IBM, ARM, NXP, Thales Alenia Space, Orange) and the “Club” was born. The set-up meeting between site managers to seal the club was held at Amadeus and then the 1st working session was held at SAP in June 2019.
Jean-Michel: As AI techniques are not specific to solving one problem, this initiative is driven by the strong belief that companies, even when working in different industries, can benefit from learning and sharing experiences of the challenges they face on similar technical problems.
“We work towards AI being used in a sustainable way and for reaching in of UN sustainability goals within industry.” Olena Kushakovska
What is special about ICAIR ?
Jean-Michel: ICAIR focuses on applied research, and as such, is a way to link fundamental research and academic findings to their application in an industrial environment.
Olena: ICAIR is human size, agile, diverse, industrial, practical, real use cases, world leading companies, low admin, low bureaucracy, good will, great ecosystem, benevolence, support and help, implication!
Why did you choose Sustainable AI as the main topic for the ICAIR program?
Jean-Michel: AI comes with its challenges, both in terms of technology, of computation power, as well as bias of learning, or humanly explainable decisions. We believe that AI can be designed and used in a sustainable manner and bring value in ways which are respectful of the planet and the communities.
Olena: Sustainability & AI often is used very narrowly : mostly either for ecological or ethical issues. We want to look at sustainability in a much larger context, that of UN sustainability goals. We understand sustainability in it is very large sense, as ability for our generation to reach out goals, without compromising the ability of future generation to reach theirs with respect to all resources (natural, human, economical). We work towards AI being used in a sustainable way and for reaching in of UN sustainability goals within industry.
What is the scope of ICAIR ?
Jean-Michel: ICAIR was designed so that researchers from companies in Sophia Antipolis hosting research laboratories working in different industrial contexts, and on different topics, can discuss and exchange their views on common issues related to the use of AI in their respective industries.
Olena: Our goal is to work on common projects, exchange best ML/AI practices, advance research in AI and using our joint power promote Cote d’Azur as THE place for sustainable AI.
What drives you personally?
Olena: Promoting our great collaboration in the incredibly rich technologically and intellectually area of Cote d’Azur, showing our headquarters that this area is really exceptional and growing AI community in it; making sure that France and Europe get the right place in the world for AI, making sure that AI is used for good, that Cote d’Azur is THE place to be for Sustainable AI, and last but not least, that people are not scared of AI.
Jean-Michel: I’m an aviation and IT enthusiast. Luckily for me, travel and aviation in particular are domains full of high combinatory challenges, which are very complex to solve and to optimize. At Amadeus, we are already fully engaged in the deployment of AI. We have also been engaged for many years in developing open and interoperable systems, because we think that it is by combining the best “atomic” services that we will bring the best value to our customers, to the travel industry and to travelers. But we also know that, as any evolution of this kind, it needs time, experience, testing and learning. AI comes with a lot of unanswered questions and challenges. With ICAIR, we are part of the learning, the teaching, and we want to answer them the right way.
More info about ICAIR
ICAIR members are large international companies with sites on the French Riviera (mainly Sophia Antipolis) and hosting research laboratories or a significant number of researchers in AI.
Current members: Accenture, ACRI-ST, AIRFRANCE KLM, Amadeus, ARM, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, NXP Semiconductors, Orange, Renault Software Labs, SAP Labs France, STMicroelectronics, Thales Alenia Space.
While the program has been kickstarted by industrials, its scope is the entire 3IA Label* ecosystem in the Cote d’Azur:
AI-related initiatives launched by these actors support the Côte d’Azur territorial dynamic. Some of them, which relate to AI and United Nations Sustainable Developments Goals, constitute the scope of the “Sustainable AI” Program.