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University of Alabama System Invests in AI Research – The Crimson White

A student uses models for research at the university.

AI-driven research has become increasingly common in recent years as AI software has become more publicly available. The University of Alabama recently announced that it will open the Alabama Center for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence in the College of Engineering, which will help advance AI research at the university.

In addition to researching ways to improve AI, the center will search for ways to use AI to benefit society, ensure AI use remains ethical, and teach people the right methods to use AI for research and everyday work.

“The establishment of ALA-AI represents a monumental step forward in the field of AI research and education at the UA,” Jiaqi Gong, director of the center, said in a UA News release. “Through interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative initiatives, we aim to address the most pressing challenges and opportunities in AI and shape a brighter future for Alabama and beyond through its responsible development and application.”

AI-driven research at the University of Alabama in Huntsville has already begun to address supply chain shortfalls following pandemics and natural disasters.

Vishwa Kumar, a graduate student in technology management at UAH, and other researchers from UAH and the Illinois Institute of Technology studied how AI analysis of social media posts can help address supply shortages.

The researchers extracted data from 1.7 million tweets from the US and India to identify the greatest healthcare supply needs that arose during COVID-19. Kumar said that information can be used in the future to plan accordingly during disaster scenarios.

Kumar said the benefit of using AI to collect data from social media was faster access to more information than traditional databases, but he added that the information may not always be accurate.

“The challenge is that social media data is not verified, and there (is) some false information that we had to deal with,” Kumar said.

Other challenges include adjusting the collection AI’s parameters to ensure it collects accurate information, adjusting the models to fit specific situations, and finding ways to continue collecting data during cellular and power outages.

Despite the challenges of the study, Kumar said the advantage of AI lies in its ability to analyze real-time information during pandemics and natural disasters.

For pandemics similar to the covid-19 outbreak, the team can analyze which hospitals are in short supply and which items they need. During natural disasters, researchers could look at data from nearby cities to identify what supplies are most needed on the ground.

Researchers from LIUC University in Castellanza, Italy, and Nottingham University Business School found that operating and managing supply chains can be optimized by AI and that it is a key technology for the industry.

According to the study, AI can help companies with their inventory management, demand forecasting, risk management and many other steps in the supply chain.

“My background was in manufacturing technology, and when I graduated 10 years ago, people weren’t talking about how to apply AI,” Kumar said. “Now, even in the manufacturing sector, everyone is talking about how to apply AI.”

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