UMD Creates Institute for Ethical AI Development

The University of Maryland's new institute will coordinate new artificial intelligence majors, minors, graduate degrees, certificates, and workforce development programs.
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Published on April 11, 2024
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  • The Artificial Intelligence Interdisciplinary Institute at Maryland (AIM) will host government and industry partnerships and community events.
  • The institute will incorporate leaders in everything from journalism to engineering to help teach how to ethically develop artificial intelligence (AI).
  • The University of Maryland's new initiative will build on knowledge from the Institute for Trustworthy AI in Law & Society, a National Science Foundation-funded institute to investigate trustworthy AI systems and include diverse stakeholders in AI development and execution.

The University of Maryland (UMD) announced a new institute that will teach students how to ethically develop artificial intelligence (AI).

UMD announced the Artificial Intelligence Interdisciplinary Institute at Maryland (AIM) on April 9. Students can look forward to new AI majors, minors, certificates, graduate degrees, undergraduate courses, and workforce development programs coordinated by AIM.

The institute will also hire more faculty. This is in addition to UMD faculty already teaching the machine learning undergraduate program and implementing AI into their curricula. One of the institute's goals is to coordinate more student degree and certificate programs in the future.

"From the start, interdisciplinary collaboration across fields will drive our AI institute's success," UMD Senior Vice President and Provost Jennifer King Rice said in the press release.

"We're fortunate to have AI leaders in fields ranging from computer science and engineering to journalism, education, social sciences, business, and the arts — a unique breadth of expertise that Maryland brings to the table."

The institute will host government and industry partnerships, community events, and financial support for AI research. While only offering one AI-driven degree, UMD faculty are driving research in AI and robotics, machine learning and data science, and natural language processing.

The institute is another addition to the university's AI portfolio and builds on strengths from UMD's Center for Machine Learning, Values-Centered AI Initiative, Social Data Science Center, and the Institute for Trustworthy AI in Law & Society (TRAILS). The National Science Foundation granted TRAILS $20 million in early 2023 as one of seven AI institutes.

AIM is directed by Hal Daumé III, lead director and principal investigator for TRAILS and a computer science professor.

TRAILS, led by UMD, The George Washington University, and Morgan State University, encourages trustworthy AI systems by involving diverse stakeholders from creation to governance.

"AI-infused systems have the potential to enhance human capacity and creativity, mitigate complex society challenges, and foster innovation," Daumé said in the press release.

"Achieving this requires a joint effort between those pushing the boundaries of new AI technologies, those who innovate AI applications, and those who study human values and how people and society interact with AI."

Daumé previously told BestColleges TRAILS has allowed him to modernize undergraduate AI courses. The institute's plan in 2023 was to create and revitalize classes, bootcamps, undergraduate and graduate research opportunities, and regional high school student opportunities.

"One of our big hopes there is that by doing things at a participatory level, we can excite a lot of people about AI and involve a lot of people about AI that have been historically excluded from AI design development and so on," Daumé said at the time.

Colleges and universities nationwide are embracing AI and creating dedicated colleges, bachelor's, associate, master's, and master of business administration (MBA) degrees, certificates, and credentials.

ChatGPT's release in 2022 rocked higher education, forcing it to respond to plagiarism and create curricula to meet the increasing demand for the newly popular technology.

Last month, the University of South Florida announced its 14th college — the first in Florida, and one of the first nationwide, dedicated to artificial intelligence. A few weeks later, Vanderbilt University announced it is in the earliest stages of developing its College of Connected Computing, which will focus on AI, computing, and data science.

"Of all the factors shaping society, few are more influential than the rapid emergence of advanced computing, AI, and data science," Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said in a press release.