Haibo He, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Rhode Island, has been researching and developing machines that possess neural networks, or intelligent computing systems, made to act like a human brain.

“The long-term goal is to really to develop mechanisms that can mimic certain levels of the human brain, with the high level of intelligence,” said He. “This has been a long-term goal of many scientists and engineers for many decades. Of course, this is a very complicated enterprise, so what we’re doing is really a piece of this big picture to develop this architecture.”

According to He, neural networks can process large amounts of data to use for prediction, classification and pattern recognition. In addition, the technology can be used for facial, image and voice recognition, language translation, tracking and predictions.

One area of research He has focused on recently is machine learning, or the development of computer algorithms that can process data so the machine can make an informed decision. He also researches human-robot interactions.

He cited neural networks that that can predict financial patterns and weather for the purpose of sustainable energy as examples of how neural networks can help in everyday life.

“It will change many aspects of how we live our daily lives,” He said. “Everyone is using a smartphone right now to take pictures or connect with your friends. In the future, [with neural networks] it would be able to do many more things for us to improve our life quality and provide support in things we are doing.”

He is the Director of the Computational Intelligence and Self Adaptive Systems (CISA) Laboratory. In this lab, He and his team researches and develops intelligent machines alongside graduate and select undergraduate students.

“I do involve heavily with students in my class in my research lab. Particularly with undergraduate students every summer I host two or three undergraduate students in my lab. It’s a ten-week summer internship, so those undergraduate students work very closely with graduate students on research projects,” He said.

When asked why He chose to take a position at URI, he responded that “URI really provides a wonderful environment to stimulate collaborations among faculty, collaborate across different disciplines. It provides one of the best research platforms in terms of this particular area.”

He also cited the upcoming engineering building as something that will help in both his research and teaching.

He is from China and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees there before receiving his PhD in the United States. He has noticed that there are both major differences and similarities between universities in China and the United States.

“One common theme is that in the past couple of years, I’ve seen that this particular field, artificial and computational intelligence, has become very popular in China and the United States,” He said.

He also said that students in both China and the United States are enthusiastic about their studies, particularly in electrical engineering.

As for differences, He noted that “The universities in China are huge. [In a single university] there are 40,000, 50,000 students. Engineering and technology are very popular majors in China.”

Despite these differences, He said that “I see a lot of collaboration opportunities between the universities in China and the United States.”

He Jiang, a graduate student that works with He in the CISA lab, says that working with Professor He has improved his research skills.

“We often benefit from working with him, although there may be some pressures,” Jiang said.

Jiang is optimistic about the future of intelligent machines.

“Artificial intelligence has already achieved many brilliant things, but there is still a long way to go,” Jiang said. “We believe there will be more breakthroughs in the future.”