Utah’s AI Leap

The U is investing $100 million for an initiative tackling societal challenges with artificial intelligence

The University of Utah is launching a new research initiative focused on artificial intelligence that aims to responsibly use advanced AI technology to tackle societal issues. President Taylor Randall HBA’90 announced a $100 million investment in the newly created Responsible AI Initiative, which will advance AI and its applications in ways that achieve societal good while also protecting privacy, civil rights, and liberties, and promoting principles of accountability, transparency, and equity. The initiative will be led by the U’s Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute as part of a concerted effort to conduct research at the U that improves the lives of Utah’s 3.5 million residents.

“As one of the nation’s leading research universities, we have an opportunity and responsibility to use our resources in ways that can impact and serve our community,” says Randall. “From being the fourth node of the original internet to performing the world’s first artificial heart transplant, the U has a pioneering legacy that we hope to continue by investing to become a national leader in responsible artificial intelligence.”

In its initial stages, the goal of the initiative is to create transdisciplinary excellence in responsible AI by bringing together deep technological expertise, advanced cyberinfrastructure, and disciplinary expertise across the university to position the U as a national leader in translational AI. The project will begin with a focus on issues that have regional implications, such as health care and societal wellness, public services, and our natural surroundings.

“Harnessing this tool will allow us to break new research ground while training our students and creating a workforce that is prepared with an essential skill set,” says Manish Parashar, director of the SCI Institute.

Initial funding for the initiative will raise and repurpose funds from three non-tuition sources: returned overhead, investment income, and philanthropy. Because of the energizing nature of AI research, future gifts to support the project and additional areas of interest are possible, with further information yet to come.

“Our investment in this initiative is indicative of our commitment to forge new frontiers in our quest for understanding,” says Provost Mitzi Montoya. “The ripple effects of this investment will impact all aspects of our state, from the technical and social to the economic and environmental.”


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