Thinking People and Machines

Eng. Svetlin Penkov, PhD, is creating a centre for entrepreneurs and scientists who have the ambition to put Bulgaria on the world map in the development of artificial intelligence

Thinking People and Machines

Снимка: Economy Magazine/Krasimir Svrakov

Автор: Tatyana Yavasheva

In Bulgaria, there are endless opportunities for the development of science and business and the creation of high-tech developments. This is what Eng. Svetlin Penkov, doctor in robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Edinburgh and owner of Sciro Research, claims. Last summer, he returned from the UK and quickly set up the Artificial Intelligence cluster by attracting specialists and companies that were ready to build a bridge between scientific knowledge and real life, and who have the ambition to tackle complex technological challenges. While working for the FiveAI startup in London, the enterprising Bulgarian got convinced that it was not the funding, but the people that make a company. And now, his intention is to achieve significant progress in the development of artificial intelligence, initially having small teams with high expertise and a relatively low cost.

Focus

Currently, Sciro Research is working on several projects. In one of them, there are five people creating a concept for visualization and debugging of neural networks. The efforts are aimed at creating a software module that would allow bugs to be found and removed during the development of the machine learning itself. This tool will be useful for all engineers and scientists who have focused their research in the field of artificial intelligence. There is a strong interest towards such a product, and it is expected its first version to be ready by the summer of 2020. Another five people are working on a project for data centre automation, and their development will affect the organization of work and reliability of such centres.

At High Speed

The best professionals are quickly sucked in by the technological giants, which creates a vacuum of talent and know-how. In Bulgaria, however, there are capable young people, and if they are directed well, they could achieve a high level of competence in about a year and a half. The group that is formed around Svetlin Penkov attracts back to Bulgaria professionals who have proven their expertise abroad. It remains open for other world-level specialists who have the desire to make fast technological breakthroughs in the country. If they start to get support, the projects will turn successful even more easily.

Advantages

Bulgaria’s advantage is that some things have happened more slowly here, which allows for the mistakes made during the creation of artificial intelligence to be skipped. In the country, developers may focus on ideas that need more time to crystallise in order to turn into a new product or scientific method. A huge advantage is the lower costs, and the competition is also not that serious, Dr. Penkov summarises.

Where to

Ever since he was a child, Svetlin Penkov imagined how he would one day create robots. Later, he realised that he would also need artificial intelligence. His dream today is that the group led by him will soon appear on the world scientific stage, and publish scientific developments at one of the three largest scientific conferences in the field of artificial intelligence. This will put Bulgaria on the world map and will, thus, attract other Bulgarians who are ready to come back, but who first want to be sure that it is worth it. That is why the aspiration of the young scientist and entrepreneur is to prove that you can be at the top of science and technology even in Bulgaria. He is a person who can always find a place anywhere in the world, but who has now embarked on a mission to concentrate in Sofia natural intelligence that creates artificial one.

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