28th November 2023

Professor Atakan Varol, the Founding Director of ISSAI, delivered a plenary lecture at the “IT Fest 2023”

Professor Varol was invited as a plenary speaker to the IT Fest organized by “NNEF” Public Foundation in the Congress Center Astana on 27 November 2023. During the plenary session, Dr. Varol presented the Institute’s cutting-edge research on wearable and interactive AI. He commenced his presentation by introducing recent advancements in artificial intelligence, including notable developments in language models, language vision models, speech recognition, and holistic AI models.

Dr. Varol proceeded to showcase significant projects conducted at ISSAI. Firstly, he presented the doctoral research of Zhanat Makhataeva, the first human memory augmentation system capable of constructing a holographic visuospatial memory. Then, Dr. Varol expressed the urgent need for developing smart systems for industrial safety after mentioning his visit to industrial plants and mines in Aktobe region. Afterward, he presented the research project of Tolegen Akhmetov on industrial safety using augmented reality and AI. Finally, Dr. Varol presented the ISSAI Digital Human Prototype “UMAY”, a virtual assistant embodied in a digitally created photo-realistic human avatar. UMAY can assist in various fields, including science, history, technology, and medicine. Using Unreal Engine 5, UMAY expresses herself with real-time facial animations. It incorporates state-of-the-art speech technologies developed by ISSAI like automatic speech recognition (ASR) and text-to-speech (TTS) to facilitate natural communication in the Kazakh language. Additionally, with the aid of advanced facial AI technologies, UMAY has the ability to recognize users and predict their age, gender, and even feelings. The core of this system is ChatGPT by OpenAI despite its known inefficiency with Kazakh. To address this, Umay utilizes ISSAI’s machine translation model, Tilmash, to convert user prompts into English and responses from ChatGPT back into Kazakh.

At the end of his talk, Dr. Varol pointed out the youth of Kazakhstan with a great interest in advanced technologies as the biggest competitive advantage of the nation. However, he mentioned the lack of AI computational resources as a major impediment of AI research and innovation in Kazakhstan and called authorities to invest in this direction for the development of the country.

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