AI: What Lies Ahead

From advancing the foundations to designing groundbreaking applications, our labs are shaping the next wave of artificial intelligence

Jun 03 2021 | Illustrations by Kiel Mutschelknaus

In 2016, Klaus Schwab—famed engineer, economist, and founder of the World Economic Forum—coined the term “Fourth Industrial Revolution” to describe the unprecedented era of technology driven change that we’re living through. In the face of such upheaval, Schwab noted, “there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril” in human history.

Overwhelmingly, this trend is propelled by one technology: artificial intelligence. AI is everywhere, teaching machines to drive cars, power advanced materials discovery, and automate factories and offices alike. But with each pioneering breakthrough comes the potential for social harm as well as good, and harnessing AI’s extraordinary power for the most benefit requires a deep commitment to creating human-centered machines. As part of an engineering school uniquely steeped in the liberal arts tradition and rich application domains, our labs have long paired innovation with a humanistic approach, one that prioritizes health and medicine, social good, better business, sustainable science, and a more equitable future of work. We’re rewriting the foundations of AI to incentivize fairness, embed causation and ethics, and support interpretable and optimal decision making, all while designing groundbreaking applications that live up to AI’s great promise and secure against peril.

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