AI expert recruited to Buffalo as inaugural director
The University at Buffalo announced it is launching a multidisciplinary artificial intelligence institute: the University at Buffalo Artificial Intelligence Institute (UBuffalo.AI).
UBuffalo.AI will explore how to combine machines' superior ability to ingest, connect and recall information with concepts that humans excel at, such as reasoning, judgment and strategizing, to develop dynamic human-machine partnerships.
To lead UBuffalo.AI, the university recruited David Doermann, Ph.D., from the University of Maryland and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Doermann built his career at UMD developing technologies for document understanding and computer vision for the defense and intelligence communities. Human language is considered one of the grand challenges of AI, and the fundamental and applied research performed in his UMD laboratory has provided a critical foundation for addressing the next wave of AI challenges.
At DARPA, Doermann developed, selected and oversaw approximately $150 million in research and funding, much of which focused on applying the latest AI techniques to acute problems in machine translation, voice analytics - including speech detection, language identification, speaker identification, keyword search and media forensics, which is the science of determining whether image and video have been tampered with. His work at DARPA — interacting with both artificial intelligence thought leaders and key government stakeholders — made him the ideal candidate to unify UB's many AI-related efforts and lead UBuffalo.AI.
With an initial focus on health and medicine, as well as autonomous systems, UBuffalo.AI will harness UB's artificial intelligence capabilities to advance core AI technologies, apply them in ways that optimize human-machine partnerships and provide the complementary tools and skills to understand their societal impact. Specifically, UBuffalo.AI aims to customize treatments to improve patient outcomes, and develop the next generation of autonomous and intelligent transportation systems. Additional research efforts will focus on examining AI's cultural, social and economic impacts.
"UB's track record of innovation in the areas of health and medicine, and autonomous systems positions UBuffalo.AI for immediate and meaningful impact," said Doermann, the institute's inaugural director and a SUNY Empire Innovation Professor in the department of computer science and engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "For example, UBuffalo.AI can accelerate the discovery of new medicine or help find new materials that can lead to smarter, more sustainable forms of energy and transportation."
UBuffalo.AI builds upon a rich history of AI research at UB that dates back decades, to when computer scientists developed a handwriting-recognition system that has saved the U.S. Postal Service hundreds of millions of dollars. More recently, UB has made strategic investments in both people and programs to enhance the university's AI capabilities. Over the past three years, the university has hired 20 faculty experts in artificial intelligence and has received more than $10 million in external funds awarded specifically for AI-related projects.
"The University at Buffalo is well-positioned to continue its pioneering role in the development of next-generation artificial intelligence systems. We have world-class faculty researchers whose expertise cuts across disciplines and societal issues, robust infrastructure, and key partners who understand the critical role that AI will play in helping to solve some of society's most pressing problems," said Venu Govindaraju, Ph.D., vice president for research and economic development, a world-renowned expert in artificial intelligence.