University of Alabama center to focus on artificial intelligence

The University of Alabama has opened a new center dedicated to the study of artificial intelligence.

The Alabama Center for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, housed within the UA’s College of Engineering, will unite new and existing work being done on campus and expand outreach activities related to AI’s development and applications, according to a news release.

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“The launch of the ALA-AI Center marks a transformative moment in AI research and education here at the University of Alabama and for our state,” said Clifford Henderson, dean of the College of Engineering.

The ALA-AI Center will showcase “… UA’s unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, world-class education and being at the forefront of cutting-edge technology research and development,” Henderson said.

The center was recently approved by the UA Systems Board of Trustees and is supported in part by a $2 million endowment in honor of Marvin A. Griffin, former chair of the UA Department of Computer Science.

According to the press release, the center will focus on five concepts:

  • To advance the science of AI and its machine learning techniques
  • Promote human-centered applications of AI that benefit society
  • Ensuring the ethical development, deployment and use of AI technology
  • Cultivating an AI-skilled workforce and society through lifelong learning initiatives

  • Promotes a vibrant AI research and education community, fosters collaborations between academia and industry

Jiaqi Gong, a UA associate professor of computer science, has been named the center’s acting director.

“The establishment of ALA-AI represents a monumental step forward in the field of AI research and education at the UA,” Gong said. “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.”

Sergei Gleyzer, a UA associate professor of physics and astronomy, and Hee Yun Lee, the distinguished professor and endowed academic chair in the UA School of Social Work, will serve as co-directors with Gong.

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