Structure and History

The Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR) is a distributed South African research network with nine established and two emerging research groups across eight universities funded primarily by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). It is virtually hosted and coordinated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The CAIR Directorate is located in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Cape Town. Its members are: 

  • Co-Director: Prof Tommie Meyer
  • Co-Director: A/Prof Deshen Moodley
  • Centre Administrator: Mrs Tharien Potgieter

CAIR was established in 2011 with the aim of building world class Artificial Intelligence research capacity in South Africa. CAIR conducts foundational, directed and applied research into various aspects of AI through its nine established research groups: Adaptive and Cognitive Systems, AI and Cybersecurity, AI for Development, Applications of Machine Learning, Computational Logic, Ethics of AI, Foundations of Machine Learning, Knowledge Representation and Reasoning, and Probabilistic Modelling. The academics leading the individual research groups in CAIR are established researchers in their research focus areas, contributing to the advancement and thought leadership in the various disciplines constituting AI. CAIR also has two emerging research groups: Swarm Intelligence and Speech Technologies. 

CAIR’s mandate is to:

  • develop world class research capability in South Africa in the identified areas of AI;
    • establish a network of AI research chairs;
    • train masters and doctoral students in AI;
  • through consolidated, applied AI research initiatives, support sustainable and effective socio-economic development;
    • enable meaningful, ethical and informed societal interaction with AI technologies;
    • advise industry, government and NGOs in the utilisation of AI for social and economic advancement;
    • reduce the cost of adopting and use of AI;
  • build an accredited national and international AI research network that promotes AI research and technology in South Africa;
    • contribute to the broader access to AI technologies and tools in South Africa.

CAIR is structured as a hub-and-spoke model with established groups at seven universities - the University of Cape Town, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, North-West University, the University of Pretoria, Stellenbosch University, the University of the Western Cape and the University of Johannesburg. CAIR also has emerging groups at Sol Plaatje University and the University of Limpopo.

  • CSIR
  • DSI
  • Covid-19