Top AI conference NeurIPS 2019 was held in Vancouver from December 8-14th. Attending experts were excited about a new research direction named federated learning (FL). Professor Yoshua Bengio, A.M. Turing Award Winner, founder of the world’s top deep learning research facility Mila-Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute and one of the “three musketeers of deep learning”, said that “In terms of better training neural networks, federated learning is at the forefront of research and will have important impact on business.”
Currently, data silos and privacy protection are two big challenges for AI. As an encrypted distributed machine learning framework, FL can tackle both problems by allowing different parties to build models collaboratively without the need to reveal their data. The method helps to advance AI modeling while protecting data and privacy.
China’s digital bank WeBank is a leading research facility in federated learning. At NuerIPS 2019, WeBank co-organized the FL workshop with Google, CMU, and NTU, with 400 scholars joining in the discussion.
During the WeBank AI Night event, WeBank announced two strategic partnerships with Mila and the leading cloud computing platform Tencent Cloud. The cooperation will focus on further developing federated learning, based on WeBank’s real-world experiences in finance and fintech, adhering to Mila’s core philosophy “AI for Humanity”, Tencent’s “AI for Good” and WeBank’s “Make Banking Better for All ” to create safe, inclusive AI applications.
Professor Qiang Yang, WeBank’s chief AI officer, explained that large-scale AI application relies on big data, which is scattered across many different organizations. Direct data merging will violate privacy regulations. FL is a compliance method strictly following laws and regulations, and is now used in fintech, healthcare, smart city, and other industrial applications.
To reduce the use threshold of federated learning, WeBank launched the world’s first industry FL open-source framework Federated AI Technology Enabler (FATE) in February 2019. This grants a ready-to-use FL framework tool to any companies wishing to work together. Partner Tencent Cloud and companies including Huawei, JD.com and other tech giants have all joined the ecosystem. The company is also leading international IEEE standards on the technology.
Founded in 2014, WeBank is the world’s leading digital bank operating solely online, now serving over 170 million individual customers and over 500,000 small and micro-sized enterprises.