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UB Joins Federal Government-Led Effort to Boost AI Safety

UB Joins Federal Government-Led Effort to Boost AI Safety

Researchers will help set standards and develop tools to ensure AI’s role for social good nationwide

The University at Buffalo has been chosen to participate in the federal government’s first-ever consortium dedicated to ensuring that artificial intelligence systems are safe and trustworthy.

Two UB research groups – the Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, and the Center for Embodied Autonomy and Robotics – will join the U.S. AI Safety Institute Consortium (AISIC), which Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced on Feb. 8.

AISIC will unite more than 200 stakeholders including academic institutions, government agencies, industry, professional organizations and more. It stems from President Joe Biden’s executive order last fall to create standards for AI usage that protect Americans’ privacy; advance equity and civil rights; promote innovation and competition; and more.

"UB Joins Federal Government-Led Effort to Boost AI Safety"
Karthik Dantu, standing, is co-lead of the Center for Embodied Autonomy and Robotics, which will represent UB in the U.S. AI Safety Institute Consortium.

AISIC includes many of the nation’s top research universities, as well as IBM, Intel Corp., Qualcomm Inc., Microsoft, Apple, Google, OpenAI and other information technology companies. It will be housed under the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is an agency of the Commerce Department.

In a news release, Raimondo said AISIC “will ensure America is at the front of the pack – and by working with this group of leaders from industry, civil society, and academia, together we can confront these challenges to develop the measurements and standards we need to maintain America’s competitive edge and develop AI responsibly.”

Venu Govindaraju, UB vice president for research and economic development, said having two UB research groups chosen to join AISIC reflects UB’s decades-long leadership in AI and its commitment to harnessing the technology for the public good.

“For years, the University at Buffalo has been a worldwide leader in artificial intelligence and data science. We’re incredibly pleased to use our expertise to help AISIC achieve its goals of ensuring that AI and related technologies are safe and secure, while also advancing innovation and promoting economic competitiveness in these critical sectors of the nation’s economy,” Govindaraju said.

The UB Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science includes roughly 100 scholars from across the university who specialize in AI and machine learning, privacy, trust and information security, legal and ethical issues, and more. Its director is Jinjun Xiong, SUNY Empire Innovation Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

The UB Center for Embodied Autonomy and Robotics focuses on research and outreach in robotics and autonomous systems, including the safety and trustworthiness of such systems. Its leaders are Karthik Dantu, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and Souma Chowdhury, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Kemper E. Lewis, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said that, by joining AISIC, UB faculty members will help establish policy on what’s poised to become one of the most consequential technological advancements in the nation’s history.

“Our faculty researchers will be working side-by-side with the nation’s leading information technology companies, as well as top government officials and others, to establish standards that will inform the usage of AI and related technologies for generations to come. It is incredibly important work that our scholars are well-equipped to tackle.”

The inclusion of UB in AISIC comes after Gov. Kathy Hochul recently named UB as the home of a proposed $400 million consortium for AI research and education called Empire AI. The statewide consortium, which aims to put New York State at the forefront of the AI revolution, will include the State University of New York, the City University of New York, and private colleges and universities, as well as private foundations.

This story was originally published by the University at Buffalo on February 14, 2024.