Category: Georgetown Magazine, Spring 2022, Teaching & Research

Title:School of Continuing Studies bolsters artificial intelligence offerings with experts from Google, Cambridge

Author: Kate Colwell
Date Published: April 26, 2022

When students asked the Georgetown School of Continuing Studies for more industry insight into how to leverage artificial intelligence, Professor Frederic Lemieux, faculty director of the master’s in applied intelligence, tapped into his network to update the Certificate in Artificial Intelligence Management.

“One of the recurring demands we heard from students was to establish better connections with AI industry leaders,” Lemieux says. “So we revised the curriculum to involve and engage more with those giants in AI that are innovating the field,” from business leaders to ethicists.

Through the revamped certificate program, professionals can learn directly from AI experts at Amazon, Google, Accenture, Hewlett Packard, and the University of Cambridge about how AI provides solutions for challenges related to processing massive amounts of data, finding patterns, and producing insights.

Now in its third year, the program attracts working professionals from government, business, and defense sectors. Over three days, students develop a business case for in- stalling an AI solution to an institutional program, present their cases to a panel of industry experts for feedback, and make revisions before showing it to their organization.

One student working in pavement infrastructure proposed that their organization deploy surveillance drones to capture the texture of asphalt on roads and bridges. In this way, they could better plan which sections of the U.S. transportation infrastructure would need repairs first. Another student addressed the problem of their company losing profit due to a slow response when items were claimed missing. They proposed using an AI system to process claims, identify shipments, and track, retrieve, or reship items faster.

Professionals also took the class to improve their arguments for project proposals. An AI lead at the U.S. Postal Service took the course to mount a justification to modernize the agency’s AI to better read addresses on letters and packages. Two professionals in the Department of Defense took the class: one to convince leadership to use AI to improve intelligence sharing among the branches of the military, and another to gain support for leveraging AI into more complex and realistic cybersecurity training.

It’s an important challenge to make the use of AI more respectful of humanity and more transparent.

Students also survey the laws governing AI with experts from Wiley Law, ponder moral dilemmas in AI with an ethicist from the University of Cambridge, and explore how AI integrates with cloud technology with a technologist at Microsoft. Finally, the program emphasizes the areas in which AI is no substitute for human judgment. For example, an AI program cannot reduce the bias in organizational hiring if it is trained using biased data; accountability lies with HR professionals to train hiring managers to recognize and address implicit biases.

“It’s an important challenge to make the use of AI more respectful of humanity and more transparent,” Lemieux says. “That’s why we are tackling the most pressing issues related to ethical AI.”

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