Imperial College London

DoC Prof leads ML research in Project CETI, TED Audacious Project Prize winner


Sperm whales swimming in sea

Project CETI brings together a unique team of accomplished scientists and technologists.

We’re delighted to announce that Project CETI, an interdisciplinary research initiative has been awarded the TED audacious project prizeThe Audacious Project convenes funders and social entrepreneurs with the goal of supporting bold solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges. 

Project CETI brings together a unique team of accomplished scientists and technologists from MIT, Harvard, Imperial College London, University of Haifa, City University of New York, National Geographic Society, and others, to study the communication of sperm whales. Recent breakthroughs in AI and unsupervised machine translation have, for the first time, allowed researchers to interpret and translate between two unknown human languages without needing a “Rosetta Stone” or parallel structure. Project CETI will build on these discoveries to provide the first-ever blueprint of another animal’s language. Over the next five years, Project CETI will seek to understand sperm whales on a level never achieved before. Using advanced machine learning and state-of-the-art non-invasive robotics, the team will listen to and translate the communication of these majestic creatures and perhaps even talk back. 

Dr. Bronstein, professor and Chair of Machine Learning and Pattern Recognition at Imperial College London and Head of Graph ML Research at Twitter, is the Machine Learning Lead for Project CETI. The project is headed by Dr. David Gruber, Baruch College Presidential Professor at City University of New York and National Geographic Explorer. Michael and David met at Harvard University during their fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and have co-authored one of the first papers using modern ML tools for the analysis of sperm whale bioacoustic data. 

Dr. Bronstein is part of Project CETI stellar team, which includes Dr. Robert Wood (Project CETI Robotics Lead), Chair of Bioengineering at Harvard, Principal Investigator of the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory, Dr. Daniela Rus, Director of MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and MacArthur Fellow, Dr. Shafi Goldwasser, Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing and Professor of Computer Science at U.C. Berkeley and MIT and Turing Award winner, Dr. Shane Gero, founder of the Dominica Sperm Whale Project, Dr. Kevin Ryan, Chair of the Linguistics Department at Harvard University, and many other world-leading researchers. 

For more information, visit and follow updates on Instagram and Twitter at @ProjectCETI. 


Ahmed Abdullahi Idle

Ahmed Abdullahi Idle
Department of Computing