You’ve probably heard that the University of Florida is building the nation’s first comprehensive artificial intelligence university. You may also be wondering what exactly this means.
Let me explain what we do and why and what it means for our students, our faculty, our university and our state.
Artificial intelligence is all around us – from Amazon’s predictions about what products you might like, to facial recognition technology that unlocks your cell phone. Companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple spend billions on AI, but small businesses also need AI if they want to operate efficiently and maximize their impact.
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Yet the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence says the United States is woefully behind in training the next generation of AI personnel, the workforce that will ensure our national security and competitiveness. economic. We need to build an AI workforce fast enough — by 2025, the commission says.
So what are we doing at UF to nurture this generation of AI experts?
Traditionally, people trained in artificial intelligence in the broadest sense – whether it’s machine learning or natural language processing – acquire their knowledge through degrees in computer science or engineering. We have reversed this model. We have taken AI knowledge beyond these specialized environments and disseminated it throughout the university.
AI permeates everything we do, from the courses offered by UF to research on the conduct of our professors to the business practices of the university. Some examples.
Students can earn certificates in artificial intelligence by taking three courses that cover fundamentals, ethics – an essential framework for ensuring fair and just use of this technology – and a final course specific to their major. A student from the School of Architecture, for example, would take a course on the application of AI in the built environment.
Beyond the certificate, we offer 230 courses in AI and data science, with over 6,000 students currently engaged in these courses.
This allows us to train many more students in artificial intelligence than we could ever do if we kept this knowledge siled in a computer science department. It also makes it easier for students to learn about AI as they study it as part of their major. We believe this is a fantastic way to build the workforce of tomorrow.
But there is more. We have hired 130 additional professors specializing in artificial intelligence at our institution, from the College of Arts to the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Dr. Dwayne Mitchell of the College of Medicine, for example, studies pediatric and adult brain cancers. As a world leader in clinical-translational research, its toolkit has become more powerful with UF Health’s GatorTron, the world’s first natural language processing model designed to extract data from clinical notes, billions of words, at a speed that humans cannot reproduce.
This allows researchers to reduce the time it takes to identify patients to enroll in trials from months to minutes. Faster trials mean faster results and ultimately faster pathways to treatments and ways to improve lives.
UF researchers are using AI in many other ways: to produce better-tasting fruit, identify potential crop damage, and create better tourism experiences.
Now, we are not doing this work alone. We have partnerships with companies such as IBM, L3Harris, SAS and Vobile, which is opening an office in Gainesville in part because of UF’s focus on artificial intelligence. And we work with state partners – the Florida Technology Council and the Florida High Tech Corridor.
And we have an amazing partner in NVIDIA, who gave us the fastest AI supercomputer in a higher education institution in the United States – HiPerGator AI. NVIDIA has also created an AI technology center at UF, integrating its engineers among our professors to help them in their research work.
We have shared this resource with the other 11 universities in the state university system, allowing them to use it for teaching and research. We’ve also partnered with FAMU, Miami-Dade College, and Palm Beach State College to train their faculty so they can deliver more AI courses to their students.
We recognize that we can’t wait for students to arrive on a college campus to start learning about AI. So our faculty is also working with the Florida Department of Education to develop the nation’s first AI curriculum for public schools.
AI is transforming Florida’s economy into one driven by technology and high wages, and we want to be part of that transformation as a leader and a partner.
David Reed is the director of the Center for Academic Initiative in Artificial Intelligence at UF.
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