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University of Alabama System invests in AI research – The Crimson White
University of Alabama System invests in AI research – The Crimson White

A student uses models for research purposes at the university.

A student uses models for research purposes at the university.

AI-powered research has become more common in recent years as AI software has become more accessible to the general public. The University of Alabama recently announced that it will open the Alabama Center for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence in the College of Engineering, which will help advance AI research at the university.

In addition to exploring ways to improve AI, the center will look for ways to benefit society from AI, ensure ethical use of AI, and teach people the right methods for using AI in research and daily work.

“The establishment of ALA-AI represents a huge leap forward in AI research and education at the UA,” said Jiaqi Gong, director of the center, in a UA press release“Through interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative initiatives, we aim to address the most pressing challenges and opportunities in AI and shape a better future for Alabama and beyond through its responsible development and application.”

AI-powered research at the University of Alabama in Huntsville has already begun to address supply chain bottlenecks following pandemics and natural disasters.

Vishwa Kumar, a doctoral student in engineering at UAH, and other researchers at UAH and the Illinois Institute of Technology investigated how AI analysis of social media posts could help to resolve supply bottlenecks.

The researchers extracted data from 1.7 million tweets from the US and India to identify the greatest medical care needs that arose during COVID-19. Kumar said this information can be used in the future to plan accordingly during disaster scenarios.

Kumar said the advantage of using AI to collect data from social media is that it can access more information faster than traditional databases. However, the information may not always be accurate, he added.

“The challenge is that the social media data is not verified and there is some false information that we have to deal with,” Kumar said.

Other challenges include fine-tuning the parameters of the data collection AI to ensure it collects the right information, adapting the models to specific situations, and finding ways to continue collecting data during cellular and power outages.

Despite the challenges associated with the study, Kumar said the advantage of AI lies in its ability to analyze information in real time during pandemics and natural disasters.

During pandemics like the COVID-19 outbreak, the team could analyze which hospitals are experiencing shortages and what items they need. During natural disasters, researchers could examine data from neighboring cities to find out which supplies are most needed locally.

Researchers from LIUC University in Castellanza, Italy, and Nottingham University Business School found that operations and supply chain management optimized by AI and that it is a key technology for the industry.

According to the study, AI can help companies with inventory management, demand forecasting, risk management and many other steps of the supply chain.

“I have a technical background in manufacturing and when I graduated 10 years ago, people weren’t talking about how to apply AI,” Kumar said. “Today, even in the manufacturing sector, everyone is talking about how to apply AI.”

By Aurora