Georgia Tech Hosts Workshop to Propel Scientific Artificial Intelligence Research

The Southeast’s leading scientific artificial intelligence (AI) researchers met in Atlanta for a two-day workshop to address challenges facing the field.

The Southeast’s leading scientific artificial intelligence (AI) researchers met in Atlanta for a two-day workshop to address challenges facing the field, including trust and reliability of the technology.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) held its annual Core Universities AI Workshop at Georgia Tech Oct. 31 – Nov. 1. The workshop hosted AI experts from eight research universities, plus ORNL and the Department of Energy, to present new research and trends relevant to the field.

Georgia Tech’s School of Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) and Institute for Data Engineering and Science (IDEaS) jointly sponsored this year’s workshop. The workshop host rotates every year among ORNL core universities.

“Participants gained insights into state-of-the-art AI models and methods that prioritize safety, trustworthiness, and energy efficiency,” said Ramki Kannan (Ph.D. CS 2016), a research scientist at ORNL who helped organize the workshop.

“They also learned how to apply these models and algorithms to scientific applications, including the utilization of recent FAIR datasets and relevant policies.”

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The workshop dealt with topics related to the large-scale application of AI. It included 12 research presentations, three keynote speeches, and two panel discussions.

The workshop began a day after release of President Joe Biden’s executive order calling for safe development and use of AI. Attendees seized the moment to discuss AI safety, trustworthiness, and privacy throughout the workshop. Three talks and one of the panels focused on these topics, and speakers referenced the subjects throughout their presentations.

Other talks focused on the application of AI as a tool to overcome today’s most pressing scientific challenges.

Two researchers discussed using AI to overcome climate change. Chris Reberg-Horton of North Carolina State University talked about optimizing AI for plant science. David Sholl of ORNL discussed how AI can solve decarbonization challenges.

“The fields of AI and various science and engineering disciplines have been experiencing rapid growth independently. However, the true potential lies in the synergy between these fields, which can translate into significant societal impact,” said Kannan, a Georgia Tech alumnus who studied under School of CSE Regents’ Professor and Chair Haesun Park.

“The future workforce across disciplines will require scientists and engineers proficient in the using AI tools to enhance productivity and achieve substantial impact.”

Networking served a vital function at the workshop and collaboration was a common discussion point during and in between presentations.

President Biden's executive order emphasizes united AI research efforts, bringing together the private sector, academia, national labs, and the government. Several speakers at the workshop echoed this collaborative approach.

ORNL’s annual AI workshop is one way that national laboratories and research universities are answering that call.

ORNL maintains formal partnerships with academic institutions, which the lab refers to as its core universities. These partnerships help universities understand and address the educational needs of national laboratories and the government in training the next generation of scientists.

ORNL’s core universities include Duke University, Florida State University, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State University, University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

“Recent times have witnessed the profound impact of interdisciplinary research, which is often nurtured through collaborations,” said Kannan, who leads ORNL’s Discrete Algorithms Group.

“Scientists, researchers, and academicians participating in this workshop will leverage the connections made here to shape their research and publication agendas for the coming years.”

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