Education

USC to open “smart data” artificial intelligence institute

The University of South Carolina wants to start working smarter.

Later this summer, the school will open an institute dedicated to studying and developing artificial intelligence, which is sometimes abbreviated AI, the school announced Tuesday.

The institute aims to use its AI research to help develop “self-improving” and customized programs for social workers, pharmacists, teachers and more, the release said.

To do that, “The AI Institute plans to enlist philosophers, ethicists, public policy experts, and lawyers dedicated to exploring the societal impact of AI technology, both the good and the unintended negative outcomes,” the release said. “For example, some have expressed concern that autonomous vehicles could soon put tens of thousands of truck drivers out of work.”

The institute will cost USC roughly $5 million over the next five years, spokesman Jeff Stensland said in an email. After those five years, USC expects money from sponsored research will fully fund the institute, Stensland said.

The institute will be led by Amit Sheth, whose personal website claims is one of the world’s most influential computer scientists.

“The university’s decision to start a university-wide institute — (which) would be one-of-a-kind in the Southeast — the tremendous interest across all the colleges on the campus in using AI, the nearby presence of natural industry partners, and potential to develop a world-class presence in AI implementation and applications made this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all involved in this initiative,” Sheth said in the release.

The university currently has 45 faculty who are already working on some sort of AI-related research. USC will hire as many as 10 additional artificial intelligence researchers and faculty, the release said.

Hossein Haj-Hariri, the dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, initially proposed the idea of an AI institute, the release said. The institute, which will open this summer, will initially be housed in the College of Engineering and Computing on Main Street, the release said.

“I like the tagline Amit uses about artificial intelligence, which is ‘We convert big data to smart data,’” said Haj-Hariri. “AI makes it possible to manage the challenges of big data, convert it to ‘smart data,’ reveal the opportunities that it harbors, and create value by enabling better decision-making, more timely actions, and more customized solutions at large scales.”

  Comments