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The Mass Media

Ask Bobby #12
September 25, 2023

Artificial intelligence institute set to launch during 2023-2024 academic year

In+the+Integrated+Sciences+Complex%2C+Abbie+gets+comfy+while+studying+for+class.+Photo+by+Olivia+Reid+%2F+Photography+Editor.+
Olivia Reid
In the Integrated Sciences Complex, Abbie gets comfy while studying for class. Photo by Olivia Reid / Photography Editor.

UMass Boston formally announced May 17, 2023, the creation of The Paul English Applied Artificial Intelligence (AI) Institute. Founded and funded by UMass Boston alumnus Paul English who graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in 1987 and his Master’s in 1989, as well as receiving his honorary degree in 2019. The new AI institute is the first of its kind in the United States. [1]

The new AI institute is the first in the nation that is “dedicated to optimizing and democratizing the use of AI tools across a broad range of professions,” UMass Boston’s website states. “The goal of the initiative is to give UMass Boston students in every field—who overwhelmingly join the Massachusetts workforce after graduation—the skills to excel in and shape the increasingly AI-powered world of work.” [1]

Research the AI institute will conduct, as well as education opportunities and outreach activities, will be intertwined with the general academic study across UMass Boston. The institute is also said to address social, ethical and diversity challenges that are associated with new AI tools and technology. [1]

One of the departments receiving some of the new institute’s AI technology is UMass Boston’s nursing program. According to CBS News, “nursing students may have their virtual reality training paired with AI. It would allow them to simulate evolving scenarios that mimic real life situations in a hospital.” [2]

Kimberly Harrington works as a sim lab educator in UMass Boston’s nursing program. She spoke to CBS News about the benefits of having interactive AI in medical labs on campus. “Maybe you said something insensitive to the patient, she is going to react like the patient would react… Especially uncomfortable situations, you are going to know how you are going to react.” [2]

“The new generation of AI will change the jobs of everyone who uses a computer, and I will work closely with UMass Boston as they leverage and develop AI tools across their disciplines,” Paul English said in a statement on UMass Boston’s website. [1]

English has dedicated $5 million to bring the AI institute at UMass Boston to life, and has even established a scholarship fund partnered with the institute. English has an impressive resume in the technology industry, co-founding several companies such as Boston Venture Studio, Deets, Kayak, Moonbeam, Reki, Xiangqi.com, FunContact, Lola, GetHuman, Boston Light and Intermute. English also has a history of co-founding a handful of non-profit organizations, including Embrace Boston, Summits Education in Haiti, Winter Walk for Homelessness, and the Bipolar Social Club. [1]

Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco released a statement in favor of the new institute, stating, “AI is raising social, ethical and diversity questions that UMass Boston is ideally suited to explore. As we train the next generation… we are grateful for Paul’s leadership.” [1]

Chancellor Suárez-Orozco went on to address the increasing anxiety surrounding AI, and how UMass Boston’s new AI institute can be a key tool in easing some misconception about AI. “We need to develop both an ethical and an equitable frame for managing artificial intelligence moving forward… The closer we get to technology mimicking what we think are uniquely human competencies, the more we freak out! It’s not the end of times, and it’s not the cure for all human problems. We have very prominent ethicists and scholars who can be a part of that conversation… This will enable us to offer our students who are first-generation to college, immigrant origin kids, to have opportunities that will become taken for granted in the more elite schools. I want our students to have the same opportunities as the students on the other side of the river.” [2]

As for the location of the AI institute, there has been no official word on where the new home for the AI institute will be. However, it is rumored the Integrated Science Center will most likely be the new location. 

 

Sources:

  1. UMass Boston Website  https://www.umb.edu/ai/
  2. CBS News https://www.cbsnews.com/boston/news/umass-boston-artificial-intelligence-ai/
About the Contributor
Samantha Beady, News Editor