University of Florida launches academic center for artificial intelligence

The University of Florida launched the Artificial Intelligence Academic Initiative Center in March. The initiative, known as AI Squared, is a new academic center to promote the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science research.

David Reed, UF’s associate provost for strategic initiatives, is leading the initiative. He believes the center will benefit the university.

“The biggest benefit of this center is facilitating the knowledge of AI across the full breadth of the university,” Reed said. “Whether it’s to faculty, who are new to UF or have been here for some time, or to our students, who are wanting to have some edge as they go through their education at UF and will be competing for jobs as they leave.”

Reed’s role will be as a point person; he will promote and maintain communication systems for the center.

The center plans to host training sessions for faculty and provide resources for students to learn about AI. Reed said this type of education can be applied to many different careers.

“Whether you are in the College of Journalism and Communications or engineering or going into health or any number of fields, people are using artificial intelligence to examine large amounts of data in all those disciplines,” Reed said.

As of now, about 14 workgroups are working on different areas of AI and the initiative is looking to increase communication and coordination through the center.

Due to AI’s many applications, students do not have to be in the field of technology to benefit from acquiring the skills the center offers. Despite AI mostly being seen as a technology-based discipline, it still has applications in other industries and professions.

“We are concerned that some people may feel like artificial intelligence is not for them,” Reed said. “Maybe they haven’t had a strong background in computer programming or any experience at all. But there are so many applications now in different disciplines where you do not have to be a computer programmer to know how to implement and apply AI to a particular question or problem.”

The center is currently in the process of creating a physical space for its operations, but still has opportunities for interested students and faculty to get involved.