Career history

Trained in AI

In 2007, Olaf Witkowski received his MSc in Civil Engineering and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Louvain. His MSc thesis used machine learning to decode the language in ancient Inca artifacts, collaborating with the Khipu Research Group at MIT.

Web Entrepreneurship

From 2007 to 2011, he became a Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer at the Web company Commentag LLC. He designed the first semantic search engine for Twitter and launched, later to become He kept working on consulting projects in data mining and deep learning between the UK and Japan until early 2016. From 2007 to 2008, he was also a Lecturer at the Louvain School of Management, and undertook studies in Natural Language Processing.

PhD in Artificial Life

In 2015, he received his PhD in Computer Science, from the University of Tokyo. His doctoral research at the Ikegami Lab, from 2011 to 2015, revealed new dynamics in the emergence of communication as a way to increase collective intelligence in groups of living organisms, employing large distributed simulations, neural networks, game theory and information theory.

Researcher in Artificial Life

In 2015, he became a Postdoctoral Researcher at the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Tokyo.

In 2016, he became a Member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and an EON Postdoctoral Fellow at the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at TokyoTech.

He is a Co-Founding Member of YHouse­ Inc. ­— a nonprofit transdisciplinary research institute focused on the study of awareness, artificial intelligence and complex systems.

He was on the Organizing Committee (Program Chair) of the ALIFE 2018 conference in Tokyo. He then remained involved in the next editions since then. He has also been organizing numerous meetings on AI and intelligence sciences, including Cross Roads (Tokyo), YHouse Consciousness Club (Manhattan), IAS Cognition Lunches (Princeton), and many more.

He also became an advisor for ALife Lab, a platform between Artificial Life scientists and those other domains such as art, design and technology.

A New Approach for AI Research

In 2019, he became the Director of Research at Cross Labs, and Executive Officer at company Cross Compass Ltd., specialized in AI for manufacturing. He leads research towards the fundamental principles of intelligence across mathematics, artificial intelligence, cognitive sciences and biology. The institute approaches AI research from a symbiotic perspective that bridges the gap between academic research and industrial advances in technology, to accelerate the progress in innovative and trustworthy AI for society.

Since 2019, he has been teaching Information Sciences as a Lecturer at the College of Arts and Sciences, at the University of Tokyo.

He also contributes to research on the origins of intelligent life as a Research Scientist at the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

He is the current Vice President of the International Society for Artificial Life, and co-founded ALIFE JAPAN in 2021.

His current scientific research aims to uncover the mathematical principles of life and intelligence, specializing in machine intelligence beyond deep learning per se, mechanisms of distributed cognition, open-ended evolution, and the future of intelligent life.