Why study artificial intelligence?

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there is no better time than today to be in computer science the computer is absolutely everywhere and while artificial intelligence isn’t everywhere yet it’s poised to transform absolutely everything when I was a kid the message was clear intelligent systems were going to kill us all today the message is a little bit more nuanced but they’re gonna do is they’re going to replace us they’re gonna take our jobs they’re going to take our industries they’re going to change everything and make us irrelevant we’re being asked to make decisions about some of those powerful technologies in the world on the basis of fear urgency and embarrassment not exactly optimal decision-making at Northwestern we’re crafting technologies that are integrated with who we are what we do and how we work together we are building technologies that will neither replace people or augment them but instead partner with them so that we can create a synthetic intelligence that is better smarter than either side by itself the thing is we we have to do this we have to invest in a if only to deal with the massive data that we’re now confronting on a daily basis we gather about Zeta bytes of data this is the equivalent of a quarter of a million libraries of Congress or the equivalent of 500 books for every man woman and child on the face of the earth every single day.

that’s not data that we can deal with anything the scale of that is no longer human there is an incredible wealth of data out there about our lives about crime immigration traffic stocks and bonds our health the Machine is capturing every single piece of data associated with what can be metered and monitored and our goal a goal is to meter and monitor everything fortunately this is exactly what the new technologies of intelligence do well they’re able to take the the data we find daunting and use it to power things like Netflix and Amazon’s ability to give us recommendations language is what connects human beings with each other if we’re going to partner with the Machine we need systems that can understand language don’t do this then we’ll never have access to this incredible wealth of information in the data that the machines gathered for example the city of Chicago actually has sensors up and down the lakefront gathering information about water quality they take that information and publish it as tables the machine can look them it can take this data and turn it into language that anyone in the city of Chicago who can read can understand and take action on it one of the strengths of northwestern is an interdisciplinary approach impacting another field that’s simply part of our DNA and it’s the core of McCormick’s whole brain engineering approach we strive to draw a student’s eyes away from the screen into the world they’re shaping we want them to know that every decision that they make at the level of the algorithm is also a decision that could have impact on the lives of millions.

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