Human-Centered AI: Carnegie Mellon University Heads New NSF-Funded Institute For Societal Decision Making

Carnegie Mellon University has received a five-year, $20 million award from the U.S. National Science Foundation to lead an institute that will employ social scientists and artificial intelligence researchers to create human-centric AI tools to help people address challenges on the job. The AI Institute for Societal Decision Making (AI-SDM) is one of seven NSF-funded AI centers aimed at fostering machine learning research and development.

The institute will provide insights for public health departments, non-profits, companies, hospitals, emergency management agencies and various other entities. For instance, it may help public health officials determine how to fairly distribute resources like vaccines or health workers.

Researchers from the CMU School of Computer Science and Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences will be joined at AI-SDM by experts from Harvard University, Howard University, Texas A&M University, the University of Washington, Navajo Technical University, Pennsylvania State University, Winchester Thurston School, the MITRE Corporation and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Aarti Singh

CMU School of Computer Science professor Aarti Singh will serve as the institute’s director.

“The best applications of artificial intelligence in societal domains will come when we not only advance AI for decision-making, but also better understand human decision-making, and when we can bring the two together,” said Singh. “Social scientists are studying human behavior. Machine learning researchers are developing new AI technologies to aid decision-making. For maximal impact of these technologies, we need to have social scientists and AI researchers collaborate to come up with solutions that will leverage AI capability while ensuring social acceptance.”

Cognitive and behavioral scientists and AI experts at AI-SDM will develop computer models that provide insight into why humans make certain decisions when faced with challenges and how social values play a role in decisions. The tools will have the capacity to predict human choices and replicate human decision-making as they undergo interdisciplinary training to help them face difficult scenarios.

The machine learning models developed at AI-SDM are expected to make independent decisions to assist people across industries and will be deployed in the field to accompany experts from government health departments, emergency management agencies and various other organizations.

The institute will also research how to increase receptiveness to artificial intelligence in societal decision-making across various industries. AI-SDM will inform the public of the ways AI can assist professionals using professional development workshops, workforce training, public engagement efforts and other community involvement approaches.

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Emma Richards

Emma Richards is a student at the University of Florida studying public relations. She is the social science communications intern at Sage Publishing.

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