Dr Seiji Armstrong is a quantum physicist and machine learning specialist on a mission to make the internet safer. As Head of Machine Learning in the Trust and Safety division at Google headquarters in California, Dr Armstrong leads a dedicated team focused on protecting child safety, countering violent extremism and, most recently, eradicating Covid-19-related racial vilification online. Operating in what is a new frontier for global safety and security, he has developed a series of machine-learning algorithms able to rapidly identify online abuse and policy breaches, with the goal of creating a safer place for all digital users online.
With a joint PhD in Quantum Science from the Australian National University and the University of Tokyo, Dr Armstrong has always been at the cutting edge of technological advancement. In 2011, he was the recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Australia-Asia Award, supporting him to undertake the second half of his PhD in Japan, where his research looked at quantum optics and quantum information theory. Working with a team of researchers at the University of Tokyo, Dr Armstrong created the foundation for an exceptionally fast and powerful quantum computer, developing a cluster of more than 10,000 quantum systems, providing greater capacity than ever before to power quantum computing.
Returning to Australia in 2014, Dr Armstrong continued his research as a Fellow in Quantum Information and Optics at the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology. There, he led a team, working together to design, simulate, build, and run experiments that tested quantum information protocols with optics. While the work was right at the bleeding edge of scientific research, it was the opportunity to lead and shape a team in order to create a shared impact that energised him, motivating him to take his next steps toward industry leadership.
In 2015, he was invited to take part in an intensive postdoctoral training fellowship in Silicon Valley, to bridge the gap between academia and a career in data science. During his fellowship, Dr Armstrong developed a web application that provided real-time performance predictions during NBA basketball games, as well as an algorithm to compute unique player performance profiles for 250 individual players. Upon completing his fellowship, he was recruited by US cyber security software firm Cequence Security, where he advanced to the position of Head of Data Science, deploying powerful machine learning algorithms, mathematical and statistical techniques to protect Fortune 500 companies from cyber security attacks.
In 2019, amid increasing global concern about the impacts of malicious cyber activity not only on big business, but also on everyday citizens and communities, Dr Armstrong joined the Trust and Safety division at Google and launched a machine learning team, applying his expertise to the development of new technology aimed at combating some of the most sinister elements of the virtual world. Everyday, he is confronted with some of the darkest elements of human existence, in rapidly evolving and often uncharted digital territory. Tapping into his capability as a leader and a collaborator has been critical to achieving impact to date, as he brings together diverse groups of people across the globe in an effort to create a shared legacy of a safer internet. It’s challenging work, both on a technical and a human level. But as the father to two young girls growing up in this new digital era, Dr Armstrong is hopeful that his work will ensure a safer world – both online and offline – for future generations.
See Dr Armstrong’s response here to being named the Awardee of the Technology & Entrepreneurship Award for 2022.