by Anna Fiorentino
Gregory Abowd, dean of the College of Engineering at Northeastern University, often refers to the “Cs” of electrical and computer engineering: computers and communications. Only now, he says, with the proliferation of AI, a third “C” — cognition — is entering all branches of engineering and finding its way into many other fields.
“(Cognition) looks at how we produce engineered artifacts that can understand and meaningfully reason about the things around us,” says Abowd.
He recognizes the vital role that sensors now play in computing this data and deriving that meaning from the physical world. While embarking on this path that we know as artificial intelligence (AI), Abowd asks the following: “How can we help engineer those artifacts in a way that’s trustworthy, meaningful, and sustainable?”
Abowd will pose the question to his fellow deans during a panel at the April 6 launch event for Northeastern’s new Institute for Experiential AI (EAI), Discover Experiential AI. During the session, chaired by Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs David Madigan, all nine Northeastern deans will gather to discuss growing an interdisciplinary community around the critical topic of AI. Each will address how their area of expertise can ensure responsible AI in the real world.
“For example, understanding the health of buildings and the resilience of infrastructure, or trying to create new kinds of materials — these things may be too complex for an analytical- or physics-based model,” he says.
Sensors allow domain experts to collect data and build a framework for machine learning to make new discoveries in every field from health care to the performing arts. And, he says, as AI permeates our lives, machines must continue to be intimately tied to the human experience — just as they have been in the advancement of computing for generations.
“I’m excited to participate in this launch event,” says Abowd. “One of Northeastern’s claims to fame is how important it is to connect education and research to problems in the world and partnering with people outside of academia to try to establish that. The AI institute is doing exactly that.”
Register now for the April 6 event to weigh in. The all-day event held virtually and in person on Northeastern’s Boston campus celebrates the launch of this foundational center for research and applied AI solutions. Check out our exciting list of featured presentations, panel discussions, and networking opportunities on the importance of implementing AI today across disciplines.