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HKU Launches Institute of Data Science

Image Credits: HKU, Press Release

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) received a HK$150 million donation from a local foundation to establish the “Musketeers Foundation Institute of Data Science” (the Institute), marking a major milestone in the University’s innovation and technology development. The Institute will be anchored at the Tech Landmark, headquarters of the HKU InnoTech initiative.

The Institute will be the command centre based at the HKU Main Campus with branches, satellite centres, labs, and institutes in the Mainland, in particular in the Greater Bay Area and the Lok Ma Chau Loop, to facilitate collaborations with local partners in industry, business, government sectors and other research institutions where data is collected. The goal is to establish a premier Institute and attract and nurture the best talents from across the globe.

One of the founders of the foundation stated that technology will play an important role in the future. With all the experts and collaborations across disciplines, it is believed that the Institute can help solve many world problems.

The Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Director of The Institute noted that The Institute will be a world-class data science hub, based in Hong Kong and connected to the University’s Shenzhen Campus in the Greater Bay Area. The three areas of Fundamental Data Science, Explainable AI and Human-Machine Interplays, and Smart Society will shape the research focus of the Institute in the coming years.

The Institute is committed to excelling in critical strategic research directions including:

  1. Fundamental Data Science
    The Institute will develop novel methodologies used to analyse large volumes of data, to find new patterns, associations, or correlations, leading to hypothesis formation and new scientific discoveries and results. A core team of data scientists specialising in computer science, mathematics, and statistics, as well as industrial engineering, will work together to form the “brain’’ of The Institute. With the capacity of these core data scientists, strategic research clusters will be set up across disciplines by leveraging the strengths of different Faculties to address complex and data-driven problems.
  2. Explainable AI and Human-Machine Interplays
    AI is everywhere in our daily lives, permeating a broad range of sectors including healthcare, education, manufacturing, law, engineering, and finance. The use of AI-enabled systems helps in making predictions and decisions that have profound effects on peoples’ lives and wellbeing. Why does an AI system make a specific prediction or decision? Why should we trust the AI system? How can the AI system correct errors that arise? Explainable AI aims to address how the black box decisions of AI systems are made, helping us to understand the steps and models involved in making decisions. This will ensure that when an AI system makes a mistake in a real-life situation, we can identify its source and prevent future mistakes.
  3. Smart society: Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area are very well placed to conduct smart society research. Current data science research by HKU’s Faculties of Architecture, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Medicine, and Social Sciences could be leveraged by utilising and integrating their data to provide a healthy and sustainable society ecosystem by integrating information and communication technology (ICT), the Internet of things (IoT), and citizen participation.
    The focused areas that will be developed include:

    • sustainable development: digital economies, societies, cities;
    • resilience and response to 21st-century challenges to complex societies; and,
    • data systems and strategies for smart societies: hard and soft infrastructures.


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