Toyota's research unit seeks to understand human behaviour and decision making

By CARSIFU | 26 March 2020

Bell will head the MAC programme.

SAN FRANCISCO: The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) plans to tap into Machine Assisted Cognition (MAC), a new initiative to develop and demonstrate artificial intelligence tools that can understand and predict human behaviour and how they make decisions.

“A key pillar of TRI’s charter is to explore ‘what’s next’ for Toyota, and MAC is another way TRI can apply its AI expertise to help humans perform better,” said Eric Krotkov, TRI’s Chief Science Officer.

“Our vision is to create a human amplification system for Toyota where people and machines work together synergistically to make better predictions, forecasts and business decisions, and do so more quickly.”

MAC is expected to be scalable, leveraging on the size of the available data or decision-making group.

TRI said its work would be transparent and it would strive to uphold privacy in the collection and use of data.

TRI has hired Franziska Bell as senior director to manage the MAC programme.

She is hiring a new team of interdisciplinary researchers including behavioral scientists and will have oversight of the Accelerated Materials Design and Discovery (AMDD) program led by Brian Storey.

Bell joins TRI from Uber where she served as the Head of Platform Data Science and created working teams around forecasting, anomaly detection and conversational AI.

The MAC team would initially build and test fundamental capabilities. They would study cases that could have a generally applicable solution for many different business functions.

Once a proof of concept has been developed, the group would explore specific capabilities that can support the needs of Toyota users in different parts of the organisation such as sales, product planning, engineering and R&D.

TRI said it hopes that MAC would also contribute to a deeper understanding of human behaviour and help make the world a better place to live in.