Congresswoman Summer Lee Announces $20M NSF AI Research Award to Create a New Artificial Intelligence Institute at Carnegie Mellon That Will Focus on Designing AI Tools to Improve Public Health, Emergency Management and Education

May 04, 2023
Press

Congresswoman Summer Lee Announces $20M NSF AI Research Award to Create a New Artificial Intelligence Institute at Carnegie Mellon That Will Focus on Designing AI Tools to Improve Public Health, Emergency Management and Education

$20M Collaboration Brings Together AI Researchers, Social Scientists To Develop Tools for Societal Challenges

(Pittsburgh, PA) Today, Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12), who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, announced that the National Science Foundation has awarded $20M to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and a number of partner institutions who are focusing on developing AI tools for the betterment of society—with a specific focus on public health and emergency management.

Congresswoman Summer Lee said, “With artificial intelligence advancing at a dizzying pace, our future depends on researchers, social scientists, decision makers and the public working together to understand these tools and put them to ethical use,” said Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12), whose district includes CMU. “I’m proud to announce a $20 million research award from the National Science Foundation for CMU to lead the country’s AI Institute for Societal Decision Making. A collaboration of several institutions, including my alma mater, Howard University, the institute will work interdisciplinarity to design ethical, human-centric AI tools to help improve disaster response and aid public health officials, community workers and clinics.”

Led by Carnegie Mellon University, the AI Institute for Societal Decision Making (AI-SDM) will be focused on dramatically improving our ability to respond to societal challenges such as disasters and public health crises by creating more human-centric AI tools to assist critical decision-makers. The institute will also develop interdisciplinary training to ensure these tools can be effectively used in uncertain and dynamic situations.

“The best applications of artificial intelligence in societal domains will come when we not only advance AI for decision-making, but also better understand human decision-making, and when we can bring the two together,” said Aarti Singh, a professor in the Machine Learning Department of CMU’s School of Computer Science, who will serve as the institute’s director. “Social scientists are studying human behavior. Machine learning researchers are developing new AI technologies to aid decision-making. For maximal impact of these technologies, we need to have social scientists and AI researchers collaborate to come up with solutions that will leverage AI capability while ensuring social acceptance.”

AI-SDM is one of seven AI institutes announced by the National Science Foundation[1] . A five-year, $20 million commitment from the NSF will support the institute.  AI-SDM will bring together experts from both the School of Computer Science and Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at CMU, as well as Harvard University, Boston Children’s Hospital, Howard University, Penn State University, Texas A&M University, the University of Washington, the MITRE Corporation, Navajo Technical University and Winchester Thurston School. This diverse group of researchers and practitioners will work with public health departments, emergency management agencies, nonprofits, companies, hospitals and health clinics to enhance decision-making.

The center will have a direct impact on the Pittsburgh region in a number of ways.  It will create AI pathways and provide leadership training for underrepresented populations; it will work with community colleges to develop project-based training curricula for first responders and public health workers;  it will engage Pittsburgh K-12 schools to develop educational tools on AI and its impact on society, and will engage a wide set of government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the region to develop and deploy tools focused on an array of emergency management and public health issues, including improving maternal health.

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