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University Launches Cutting-Edge Institute for AI-Driven Discovery and Innovation

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Consolidating its position on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence research, Stony Brook University officially launched the Institute for AI-Driven Discovery and Innovation in a May 9 event held at Bloomberg headquarters in New York.

The new Institute will support potentially revolutionary research relating to human-machine symbiosis, grounded in the principle that AI technology should amplify human intelligence instead of replacing it. The Institute is envisioned as an intellectual hub to coordinate and encourage faculty AI research and educational initiatives across the University and beyond.

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At the AI Institute launch event, left to right, Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD; Steven Skiena, Director of the Institute for AI-Driven Discovery and Innovation; Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“Artificial intelligence is ushering in a new era in human evolution, impacting every aspect of our lives and redefining the very essence of human nature,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD.

“Universities, such as Stony Brook, must be at the cutting edge of developing new AI technologies, taking into consideration their societal and ethical impacts and educating the workforce of the future,” President Stanley said.

The keynote address was delivered by Terrence Sejnowski, author of The Deep Learning Revolution and Francis Crick Professor at The Salk Institute and Director of the Crick-Jacobs Center for Theoretical and Computational Biology. 

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Attentive guests at the AI Institute launch event at Bloomberg headquarters

Welcoming a high-powered roster of guests and dignitaries, Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean of Stony Brook’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, hailed a new world of machine learning and data science “with the potential to impact every corner of society all around the globe.”

“The importance of higher education institutions in this new era of intelligent machines cannot be overstated,” Sotiropoulos said. “Educational paradigms must be established that prepare students to work and creatively co-exist with AI systems by cultivating higher order human cognitive abilities, which are less likely to be replaced by algorithms and robots.”

The Institute was established with two grants totaling $4.5 million from SUNY’s Empire Innovation Program as well as funding from Stony Brook University and private donations. These funds are being used to recruit world-class faculty researchers in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.  The AI Institute will serve as a hub for the AI research effort at Stony Brook University and will fuel the workforce for the AI-driven economy of the future through programs that fuse computer science, engineering and applied mathematics with medicine, life sciences, and the arts and humanities.   

Kristina Johnson, Chancellor of the State University of New York, noted that “artificial intelligence is a key factor in our work moving forward.”

“AI is an economic driver,” Chancellor Johnson said. “The growth in AI brings with it an increasing demand for workers trained in these new technologies. It drives new business models and creates new markets.”

Steven Skiena, Director of the Institute for AI-Driven Discovery and Innovation, noted that several new faculty at the forefront of AI research have already been recruited.  They will join 13 core faculty and two dozen affiliates already in place as the University implements new pedagogical and research initiatives in the field, Skiena said.   

Already researchers within the Institute are expanding the impact of AI and machine learning throughout Stony Brook’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the broader University community, where researchers and faculty are working on transformative technologies as diverse as:

  • Nanobots that can compute information that stimulates the brain to cure degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s;
  • “Smart” concrete, embedded with computing devices that act like neurons, sharing information about the conditions of roads and bridge; and
  • Improving the accuracy  of cancer diagnosis and developing personalized therapies
  • Using social media postings to diagnose depression
  • Understanding how to treat mental illness and degenerative diseases of the brain
  • Developing strategies to protect endangered penguin populations in Antarctica

Gideon Mann, Head of Data Science in the Office of the CTO, Bloomberg L.P. highlighted the importance of Artificial Intelligence to the world of business and finance.

“It’s encouraging to see Stony Brook building on its existing strength and increasing its efforts to train the next generation of data scientists who will build AI systems like the ones we work on here at Bloomberg,” Mann said.

AI Institute launch group
At AI Institute launch event, left to right, Gideon Mann, Head of Data Science in the Office of the CTO, Bloomberg L.P.; SUNY Trustee and Stony Brook Foundation board member Cary Staller; Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD; Steven Skiena, Director of the Institute for AI-Driven Discovery and Innovation; SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson; Nicole S. Sampson, Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Terrence Sejnowski, Director of the Crick-Jacobs Center for Theoretical and Computational Biology.

Several speakers emphasized the importance of collaborative teaching and research to the future of AI, which will impact all academic disciplines as well as most aspects of daily life.

“Stony Brook University is one of the top research universities in the world, but what truly sets us apart is our cross-disciplinary, collaborative approach to discovery and our understanding of the importance of partnering with industry to develop the big, transformative ideas,” President Stanley said.

For more information, email CEAS_Dean@stonybrook.edu or call 631-632-8561.

 

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